The story of Octopus Personnel – An Unexpected Journey

An Unexpected Journey

Wow, what was I thinking 15 years ago? We were rapidly heading for a recession, and I decide to start a business! I had never planned or had any aspirations to run my own business. A throwaway comment from a colleague who said, “if you were to ever open your own business you know I’d come and work for you don’t you?” was the catalyst for it all. I remember laughing and saying I’d never be able to do that.

However, something must have lodged in my crazy mind as I mentioned it to my family and their response was, “well why not do it? You work so hard for everyone else why not do it for yourself?”

“Passion was not on their tick list!”

I remember getting a notepad and starting to write a pro and con list – getting a dog was very much in the pro column. I excitedly started putting a plan together of what I would need to get started. The list got longer and longer and scarier and scarier – I didn’t have a pot of money ready and waiting so I scrambled together what I could and put together a business plan of sorts and went to the bank. They did not want to know. The bank wanted me to have guaranteed clients – I guess they saw through me and knew I didn’t have a clue on how to run a business. Passion was not on their tick list!

I have since reread that first business plan and it makes me laugh – what was I thinking??!!

My first footsteps

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) ran a course (and I think they still do) – ‘How to run a recruitment agency’so I signed up. It was fantastic, and I still refer to that lever arch folder for snippets of information. Top of the ‘To Do List’ was an office. I knew I wanted to be in the High Street in Gillingham. I had always believed there was an opportunity in the area, but when I spoke to the management team of the agency I was working for, they wouldn’t listen to me.

There were a few options for office space – one in fact was the shop that is now Costa, but a friend heard through the grapevine that number 1 Newbury Court (where Dorset Tech is now) was going to become vacant. I remember speaking to the proprietor and next thing I know I’m signing papers, and I have myself an office. It makes me laugh now when I think about it – I really didn’t have a clue.

A new place to call home

I spent the next few weeks in the office space getting it ready, pulling in favours from friends and family to gut the space and turn it into a high street office. I spent so many hours painting and planning. It was so funny planning where we were going to put desks and office equipment. It was difficult to visualise, so we made life size templates from newspaper to represent the desks, chairs and other necessary items we needed, and moved them around the floor until we had it nailed. We had a small kitchen area, a loo, a front office with floor to ceiling glass windows, and a small back office that became my space.

It was an exciting day going to the office furniture shop in Blandford and ordering 3 desks, 3 chairs and a filing cabinet, and while we were there, we spotted the perfect reception furniture. The shop owner took pity on me, and I got a good price for the lot.

Getting ready for opening day

A date for opening was basically plucked from thin air and then everything had to be sorted for that date.

We used a well-known telecommunications company for our first computer and telephone set up – it took a huge chunk of the money I had and if I had known better, I would have done things differently, but I was green and didn’t know any different.

We did lots of research on CRM systems, we had lots of demonstrations but one stood out, and we are using them to this day! The company has been really supportive, and the system has grown with us. I remember one of the team came to my home in Mere and sat at my kitchen table to show us the system. My daughter Katie was very excited about it, personally I was still old school and liked to work with paper files and index cards! I am delighted to say I have most certainly progressed from those days.

“I still try and use local businesses”

The next thing we needed was a website of some sort. I remember driving around the industrial estates trying to find a company that would help me, and I came across LA Marketing in Shaftsbury. They were fantastic – very supportive and agreed to help with a 2-page website to get me started. During our meeting it also came to light that they could also help with signage and our much-needed window display set up.

I still try and use local people and businesses – I think its so important that we support one another.

“I felt like Super Woman!”

While all this was going on I felt like Super Woman and thought to myself, ‘do you know what, I am going to learn book-keeping and do it myself!’

I enrolled on a course that was one afternoon a week. I lasted 2 weeks! There’s more to my bookkeeping journey so I will save that story for later.

It was just another example of how green I was in those days, my idea was to offer permanent recruitment and then maybe explore temporary recruitment later as I had never ever dealt with temporary workers before – did I have a shock coming!!

To be fair it was so much fun in those first crazy weeks and months. I was so excited about it all but of course I did have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach – the voice in my head was saying, ‘what are you thinking, you are never going to be able to do this’. But I’d gulp and say ‘YES I can, and I will!’

Opening day was rapidly approaching – the carpet was down, furniture was in, and the systems installed. I remember thinking that we needed some plants so I popped down the road to ‘Focus’ (ASDA is there now) and bought these cheap plants thinking they will only last a week or so but will look good for the opening. We still have one of the plants in the office today – it has stood the test of time, a bit like me really! When it’s looking a bit bedraggled and sorry for itself, we give it some nourishment and a drink and its soon flourishing and doing what it needs to do.

Before we opened, we spent every Sunday going door to door delivering small leaflets to let people know we were opening. The leaflet was to be frank, awful, and so small. I remember visiting a client a few years after we opened, and she told me she still had that leaflet on her fridge, which gave us both a giggle.

The Blackmore Vale Magazine was the place to be. For a half page it was £500 and that was an awful lot of money for me. I really struggled with making the decision to go ahead with the article, but so pleased we did. We opened on the Wednesday and the article went out on the Friday. I still have a copy, I was so proud – there were a couple of photos and a nice piece about the company and how I wanted to be different from your average high street recruitment agency. It certainly got us noticed… and then we full speed ahead.

The story of Octopus Personnel will continue….

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

April changes for Living Wage and National Insurance

There are two big changes for employee pay this April.

The rates for the National Living Wage and the National Insurance are changing.

 

Here’s what you need to know.

From April 2022, workers will be entitled to the new rates. The National Living Wage applies to those aged 23 and over and its increased by 6.6%, to £9.50 per hour.

New Rates for employees:

  • National Living Wage £9.50
  • 22-22 year olds £9.18
  • 18-20 year olds £6.83
  • 16-17 year olds £4.81
  • Apprentice rate £4.81

 

 

This April also sees a temporary change to the employee rate for National Insurance.

For the next year, the National Insurance rate is increasing by 1.25 percentage points to 13.25%.

  • The new rate will last until April 2023
  • It will be spent on the NHS, health and social care in the UK
  • The threshold to start paying into the National Insurance pot has increased to £9,880 p/a from £9,568. If you earn less than this you won’t pay any National Insurance.

To find out more, and which rates applies to you, head to the government site National Insurance  and   National Minimum Wage Rates

Need help? The team are available to chat should you need any advice. Call us on 01747 825568.

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Get to know us – Bronya

Want to get to know us a little better? Well now you can!

 

At Octopus Personnel we think of ourselves as being in the people business and we love to really get to know our job hunters and clients so we can do our best to help. It seems only fair that you can get to know us as well!

I asked our team at Octopus Personnel some questions to find out a little more about them.

This time it’s Bronya’s turn! Bronya is our Office Guru and adopted office baker!

  1. Best part of your job?

    Getting to talk to such an interesting variety of people.

  2. Starter, main or pudding?

    Starter…..or both if I’m particularly peckish!

  3. If your pet could talk to you, what do you think they would say?

    Stop trying to pick me up for cuddles!

  4. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

    To have magical powers to grant wishes! Without living in a lamp of course!

  5. Coffee or tea?

    Coffee – a flat white is my go to.

  6. Houw would you describe your job to a 4-year old?

    I chat to people on the phone all day and get to plan people’s days for them.

  7. Name something you’d love to learn?

    I’d love to be fluent in another language and be an amazing pastry maker. So French would probably come in handy for all the yummy French patisserie!

  8. Do you have any secret talents?

    I’m quite double jointed!

  9. What do you love most about Octopus?

    The team are just so lovely to work with.

  10. Finish this sentence: “It’s never too late to…”

    Have a cheeseboard!!!

 

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

What will bring you joy in 2022?

 

Here we are in 2022! As a New Year begins, there’s always a lot of noise on social media about “New Me”, “New Start”, “New Resolutions”, but along with this comes a lot of pressure to make big changes in our lives, and just like a new fad diet, these can be hard to stick to.

Instead of the usual list of New Year Resolutions that are thrown out the window by February, give yourself some time to think about the small positive changes you’d like to make for a more balanced lifestyle. Think about what brings you joy and work towards bringing more into your life. It might be a de-clutter, some exercise or maybe learning that new skill that you’ve been thinking about for ages. Just like saving pennies, small realistic changes can make a big long-term difference to your well-being.

You might want to ask yourself:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What will make me happier?
  • How do I change it?
  • Will it fit into my life circumstances?

I asked the team what will bring them joy in 2022.

 

Katherine

I don’t do resolutions but last year I started a 7 minute per day exercise routine that I can manage to squeeze into my busy work/home life. This has really kept me sane and I’m feeling healthier and fitter. I find it great for stress relief as well.

I’ve decided to continue this, and I am already on a new 7-day challenge. I know this is something I can stick to as I’ve already made it part of my everyday life but I like to add some variety and try new challenges to keep it interesting – bring it on 2022!

 

Erin

A couple of years ago I took a deep breath and took some time out of work to gain a new qualification (yes, at my age lol). I’m so glad I did, because it led me to Octopus and the most amazing group of people to work with.

So, this year, I’m going to re-look at what training can help me do my job better and take some free online courses. There’s a lot of professional bodies that offer free skills courses and you never know, it could land you your dream job or promotion. Your employer may be able to talk to you about courses that can benefit your job and there’s lots to search from online or even your local library!

Don’t forget you can chat to our team about your job goals and what you might need to do to find your ideal work situation – whether that’s by getting experience with temping, doing some training, or finding a new job.

 

Anna

I do love to organise, so I think this month I will take some time to de-clutter – both at work and at home.

It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed after the Christmas madness so I like to take some time to think about what I need or want around me and get rid of what does not bring me joy!

Take it a bit at a time, whether it be a desk, cupboard or a whole room. Give yourself some time to achieve your task and work through it methodically. It can help to ask yourself – do I need this or do I love this? If the answer to both is no, then it might be time to repurpose or recycle.

Every little helps so don’t overwhelm yourself with the task and you’ll be surprised at how you feel at the end – as long as the kids don’t come home and un-do all your good work of course!

 

Bronya

As the team here know, I love to bake and explore new recipes. This January, I’m going to take advantage of all the healthy ideas and ingredients in the shops to experiment with some healthy recipes to add to my repertoire.

Have you ever said to yourself “I’ll start that diet on Monday?” It’s so easy to make big promises to yourself and fall at the first hurdle. I find it so much easier to start small and find out what I enjoy – I think that applies to most things in life, not just food!

I’ve already started trying out some meat free recipes and thinking about how I can work in more nutritional ingredients without compromising on flavour. I want to find what works so I will be trying new things, taking myself out of my comfort zone and making what works for me, whatever day of the week!

 

 

Has our team inspired you? Will you be making a change in 2022?

Whatever you do, accept that change doesn’t often happen straight away. A New Year is a great time to review what might be working (or not working) for you but don’t forget you’re in it for the long haul and fads don’t bring about long-term results so be kind to yourself.

While we might not be able to help you with a declutter(!), if you’re looking to try a new job or a new way of working, we’d love to help you. Take the first step by setting up an appointment with one of our team on 01747 825568.

Happy New Year!

 

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

New rates for National Minimum Wage and Living Wage

The rates for the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage are changing.

(more…)

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Bloopers Reel

This is what has made us #smile on a dreary Wednesday afternoon 😄

Check out our bloopers reel! We LOVE video recruitment!

Keep an eye out for the polished, professional version coming soon…

#GoOctopus #happiness #wednesdaymotivation #shareasmile

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Octopus Baby!

Welcome to the Octopus Family little baby!

Lucie and Paul have granted us the honour of announcing the news of their sweet little baby Sapphire, who has made their family complete ❤️👶🐈

The lovely new family is happy and healthy, and we wish them all the best in their exciting adventure.

We are really missing Lucie in the team and there is a line of people waiting for cuddles (when it is COVID safe!).

Welcome to the Octopus family 🐙 baby Sapphi!  What a sweet Octopus baby you are!

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Modern Slavery Prevention and the Pandemic

Octopus Personnel is committed to helping prevent and eradicate modern slavery, protecting the rights of the most vulnerable

Whilst Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the world, it has not affected everyone equally.  For people who are enslaved or vulnerable to slavery, the economic and social disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting their lives in new and profound ways.   Whilst the economics of slavery go some way to explaining why it remains such a challenging problem to eradicate, there are things which can be done to help those affected.

Modern Slavery is big business

 Slavery is big business

Globally, slavery generates as much as $150bn (£116bn) in profits every year.  Shockingly, more than one third of which ($46.9bn) is generated in developed countries, including the European Union.

According to slavery expert Siddharth Kara, modern slave traders now earn up to 30 times more than their 18th and 19th century counterparts would have done. The one-off cost of a slave today is $450, Kara estimates. A forced labourer generates roughly $8,000 in annual profit (6,142.80 Pounds Sterling) for their exploiter, while sex traffickers earn an average of $36,000 (27,628.02 Pounds Sterling) per victim.

Two centuries ago, slave traders were forced to contend with costly journeys and high mortality rates; modern exploiters have lower overheads thanks to huge advances in technology and transportation. Ongoing issues with modern migration flows and government policies also mean that a large supply of vulnerable, exploitable people are easily accessible, and can be drawn into global supply chains in the agriculture, beauty, fashion and sex industries.

What do modern slaves do? Modern Slavery Prevention

What do modern slaves do?

Slavery is an umbrella term for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service.  Of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, the majority (16 million) work in the private sector. Slaves clean houses and flats; produce the clothes we wear; pick the fruit and vegetables we eat; trawl the seas for the shrimp on our restaurant plates; dig for the minerals used in our smartphonesmakeup and electric cars; and work on construction jobs building infrastructure for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Women and girls bear the brunt of these statistics, comprising 99% of all victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors, according to the ILO.

Someone is in slavery if they are:

  • forced to work through mental or physical threat
  • owned or controlled by an ’employer’, usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’
  • physically constrained or have restrictions placed on his/her freedom

The following definitions are encompassed within the term ‘modern slavery’ for the purposes of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

These are:

  • ‘slavery’ is where ownership is exercised over a person
  • ‘servitude’ involves the obligation to provide services imposed by coercion
  • ‘forced or compulsory labour’ involves work or service extracted from any person under the menace of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself voluntarily
  • ‘human trafficking’ concerns arranging or facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploiting them.

For further information please refer to the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

How has the pandemic affected those vulnerable to modern slavery

How has the pandemic increased the risks to vulnerable people?

1. For children and young people, social isolation may increase their vulnerability to grooming and abuse.

2. Lockdowns to halt the spread of the virus have led to mass layoffs as many global brands have cancelled orders and factories have been required to shut down. The garment industry has been particularly badly affected: by late March over one million workers in Bangladesh had been laid off or temporarily suspended.

3. Migrant workers returning home due to coronavirus restrictions are at great risk of infection when travelling on crowded public transport, stuck at borders or other bottlenecks where physical distancing is all but impossible.

4. In the UK, many are often too scared to reach out to authorities, even when they are in dire need of accessing essential support, such as healthcare. They fear being criminalised and detained, rather than being protected as a victim of crime.

5. Coronavirus lockdowns across the world have limited the operations of anti-slavery organisations.

Is modern slavery still a problem in the UK?

Is slavery still a problem in the UK?

Even though most people think that slavery only exists overseas, modern slavery in the UK is thriving. The British Government estimates that tens of thousands of people are in modern slavery in the UK today.  Most people are trafficked into the UK from overseas, but there is also a significant number of British nationals in slavery. The most common countries of origin are Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Romania and Poland.

What does Octopus Personnel do to prevent Modern Slavery?

What does Octopus Personnel do to prevent modern slavery?

At Octopus Personnel, we committed to eliminating the exploitation of people under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the Act).   In order to assess the risk of modern slavery, we use the following processes with our clients:

Many businesses are not equipped to tackle the risk of modern slavery. Supply chain risks are characterised by groups vulnerable to labour exploitation including migrant workers undertaking unskilled or irregular work; young people and unskilled or illiterate workers and displaced people and by the use of third party labour providers for recruitment and employment. Effective strategies to tackle the risk of modern slavery require: a good understanding of where risks lie in the supply chain; an action plan to tackle those risks; remediation policies and effective monitoring and reporting.

When engaging with our clients, we ask for evidence of their processes and policies, including commitments around modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour, human rights and whistle-blowing.  Octopus Personnel confirms with all our clients that no child labour will be used.

After due consideration, we have not identified any significant risks of modern slavery, forced labour, or human trafficking in our supply chain or with our clients. However, we continue to be alert to the potential for problems.

Additionally, we have taken the following steps to minimise the possibility of any problems:

  • We require the businesses we work with to address modern slavery concerns in their policies.
  • We collaborate with our clients in order to improve standards and transparency.
  • Only senior members of staff who have undergone appropriate training for assessing modern slavery risks are authorised to sign contracts and establish commercial relationships in any area where we have identified the potential for risk.
  • We ensure that all of our clients are members of appropriate industry bodies and working groups.
  • We work with GLAA, ALP and REC in order to combat the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Our staff are encouraged to bring any concerns they have to the attention of management.

What do I do if I think someone is a victim of Modern Slavery

What do I do if I think someone is a victim of modern slavery?

According to Anti-Slavery International, slavery is so common that it is possible you come across victims “on a regular basis”. Key things to look out for are whether the person has freedom of movement; appears scared, withdrawn or shows signs of abuse; has few personal belongings or identifying documents with them; or seems under the control of someone else and scared to talk.

If you think someone may be vulnerable or a victim or modern slavery, it is best to contact authorities directly instead of approaching the person, as approaching them could put them in danger.

In the UK, you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, the police, Crimestoppers or groups such as Anti-Slavery International.

Further reading

Covid-19 and slavery: the five big impacts

Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage ILO

Global Report on Human Trafficking UNODC

With Ash on Their Faces: Yezidi Women and the Islamic State Cathy Otten

Modern Slavery: A Global Perspective Siddharth Kara

Disposable People Kevin Bales

Here to support you

At Octopus Personnel, the recruitment team are experts at presenting our candidates to ensure the employer is able to see all the skills and experience you are bringing to a role, and preparing you to succeed at interview. Years of industry expertise and outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role. You can sign up here or call the office on 01747 825568 to arrange an interview.

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Successful Recruitment during the Pandemic

We’re in this together

Despite the news continuing to report challenges for individuals, families and companies alike, successful recruitment during the pandemic is still possible.  We are working with our candidates and clients closely to safeguard the health and safety of all.  We take our responsibility to support our communities, those who are vulnerable, and the healthcare providers who are on the front lines of this pandemic extremely seriously.

Following the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, people living in England will be asked to work from home where possible and pubs, bars and restaurants will be required to close at 10pm each night under a series of new restrictions. Under these new rules, the requirement to wear face masks has now been extended.  If you need to attend the office for any reason, please make sure you wear a face covering at all times.

Successful Recruitment in the Pandemic

Moving forwards

We have initiated some changes to ensure we remain one step ahead and that we continue to do the right thing for our team, candidates and clients.

The Octopus office will remain open, but we will be offering virtual appointments only for the time being.  You can still meet with us in lots of different ways: using #Zoom#Facetime or #WhatsApp.  Our policies and provision for ensuring we help reduce the spread of Coronavirus have proved effective so far and we will continue to liaise with our clients to ensure we prove the best support and advice to our candidates.

If a virtual appointment does not suit you, we are, as always, on the phones (01747 825568) ready to discuss alternative arrangements with you.

Digital Innovation: Successful Recruitment during the Pandemic

Exciting Announcements

This year has changed the focus of many businesses and allowed us as a recruitment company to bring forward our digital plans. Our commitment to meeting with each candidate at the start of their journey remains at the heart of what we do, so we are very excited to share with you that we have now integrated the latest video software into our recruitment process!

We have already found this gives clients a better insight into the team and cultural fit of a candidate, whilst reducing the time to hire and supporting an accurate first stage screening process. For candidates, it provides a great platform to sell themselves within a matter of seconds, getting your personality, experience and USP across, bringing your CV alive!

So keep an eye out on our social media and website, where we will be revealing all over the next course of the next month!!

The Octopus Team: Successful Recruitment during the Pandemic

Here for you

As mentioned, we are at the end of the phone to support you in any way we can.

For job seekers, our website offers a wide range of resources to help you efficiently navigate the job search, advice on redundancy, making sure your CV and interview skills are up to date, improving your LinkedIn Profile and much more.

For clients, we have the latest advice on recruitment, from flexible resourcing with temporary workers to benefitting from the switch to an employer driven market.

Recruitment during Pandemic

Do you have symptoms of COVID 19?

The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following;

  • A new continuous cough
  • A high temperature
  • A loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange.  Please see all the latest guidance here.

If you are experiencing any symptoms whilst working for Octopus Personnel you must notify us immediately.

Further Information

Further information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 is available on the PHE blog and NHS.UK.

Advice from the NHS on when to self-isolate is here:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

Advice from the Government to Employer, Employees and Business can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Advice on travel and returning from travel is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus and from the Foreign Office Website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice You should notify Octopus Personnel if you have been abroad in the last month.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public provides further information, including symptoms and the latest advice.

Whatever your needs, we are here to help! You can contact us via phone on 01747 825568, drop us an email or contact us so we can answer any questions you may have.

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Your Payroll Questions Answered

National Payroll Week, 7th – 11th September, was established to raise the profile and awareness of payroll in the UK.  The UK Payroll industry is expected to contribute in the region of £325.7bn to the UK economy in 2020/21 and is vital to business and employee alike.

To celebrate, we have gathered together all the most commonly asked payroll, pensions and holiday & sickness questions. When will I be paid? How do I find out my tax code? Should I be paying pension contributions? We will take you step by step through the most common questions related to Payroll.

What is Payroll?

Payroll is the process I go through in order to pay our temporary employees.

The term payroll has several different parts:

  • The calculation and distribution of wages (physical or electronic) to employees, weekly in Octopus Personnel’s case.
  • The financial records for employee wages and salaries, deductions, pay for time not worked (holidays, sick time, etc.) and other items on employee payslips.
  • The recording of total earnings of all employees for a company in a financial year

When will I be paid?

Octopus Personnel pays a week in arrears, which means you will be paid for this week’s work next Friday. Pay Day for all Staff is Friday. Your timesheet must be submitted to Payroll by 10 a.m. on a Monday to enable us to run Payroll and pay you on a Friday.

How do I access my payslip?

Your payslip is emailed to you on a Thursday. You should save your payslips, print and file for your future reference.

What is payroll? Your payroll questions answered

How do I find my Employee Number?

Your Employee number can be found on your payslip in the top box on the left-hand side.

Why do I have to pay National Insurance?

National Insurance contributions are a tax on earnings paid by employees and employers and help to build your entitlement to certain state benefits, such as the State Pension and Maternity Allowance.

National Insurance applies to your pay each pay period, which for Octopus Personnel is weekly. You begin paying National Insurance once you earn more than £162 a week (this is the figure for the 2018-19 tax year).

The National Insurance rate you pay depends on how much you earn:

  • 12% of your weekly earnings between £162 and £892
  • 2% of your weekly earnings above £892.
  • Your National Insurance contributions and any PAYE will be deducted before we pay your wages.

What does HMRC mean?

HMRC is short for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which was formerly known as The Inland Revenue.

What is a tax code? Should I be saving into a pension? What should I do if I want to take holiday? our payroll questions answered

What is a Tax Code?

We use your tax code to work out how much Income Tax to take from your pay or pension. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tell us which code to use to collect the right tax.

Your tax code will normally start with a number and end with a letter. 1185L is the tax code currently used for most people who have one job or pension.

How do I find my Tax Code?

Your Tax Code is on the bottom of the wageslip, on the left-hand side.

How do I know how much tax I have paid this week?

Your Tax (called PAYE Tax which stands for Pay as You Earn) and National Insurance contributions are listed on the right hand side of the payslip.

How do I know how much tax I have paid this year?

Your Tax Paid YTD (Year To Date) is listed at the bottom of the payslip.

What should I do if I think my Tax Code is wrong?

You can check your Income Tax online to see:

  • what your tax code is
  • if your tax code has changed
  • how your tax code is worked out
  • how much tax you’re likely to pay.
  • Unfortunately, I can not help if your tax code is incorrect. You need to contact HMRC directly and inform them. If you think your tax code might be wrong, you can use the online check your Income Tax service to tell HMRC about a change in your circumstances.

If you can’t use the online service you can contact HMRC using this link.

What is a P60?

A P60 is issued to current temporary staff after the end of each tax year and shows the taxable pay and tax totals for that tax year. It is a document that states in detail your earnings and provides a summary of any deductions. This includes National Insurance Contributions and PAYE tax.

What is a P45?

When you leave Octopus Personnel, we will issue you with a P45 form. This details your salary and the taxes you’ve paid to date in the tax year.

You may need to use the information in a P45 to fill out a tax return, if you are sent one. If you’re not working, you’ll need your P45 to claim tax refunds and benefits. Your P45 is also important for making sure you are not charged too much tax when withdrawing money from your pension.

What is a P45? What is a tax code? Should I be saving into a pension? What should I do if I want to take holiday? our payroll questions answered

Should I be paying into a pension?

If you are over 22, have been working for 12 weeks or more, and are eligible, you will be automatically enrolled with NOW Pensions. Your contribution to your pension is listed below tax on your wageslip and the contribution made by Octopus Personnel is listed below that.

When will I be automatically enrolled into the NOW Pension Scheme?

If you are aged over 22, earn over £192 per week and are eligible, you will be automatically enrolled into the pension scheme once you have completed three months on your assignment.

Do I have to join the pension scheme?

We strongly recommend that you remain with the pension scheme. Only you can save for your future and the sooner you start adding to your pension pot, the bigger it will be. However, if you have made alternative arrangements for your future for example, you do have the right to opt out at any time. For more information, please click here.

You can choose to stop making contributions to the scheme but need to do this within one month of your enrolment date. You will be refunded with any contributions you have made. The quickest and easiest was to stop contributions is via your online member account. If you opt out after a month, you will not receive a refund.

What is re-enrolment?

Every three years, if you are still temping with us, we are required to undertake the re-enrolment process. If you had opted out or ceased to be an active member of the pension scheme, you will be reassessed and, if you meet the eligible jobholder requirements, you will be re-enrolled into the scheme with the same opt-out arrangements.

Where can I get further information?

For more information on NOW pensions, please click here.

For more information on pensions and saving for later life, please click here.

Should I be saving into a pension? What should I do if I want to take holiday? our payroll questions answered

How do I notify you of a change of address?

Please email the office enquiries@octopuspersonnel.co.uk or call us on 01747 825568.

How do I change my bank details?

For GDPR reasons, and to keep your information safe, if you need to change your bank details, please pop into the office or call us on 01747 825568.

We expect each of our workers to have their own bank account in their name. This is one of the ways that we ensure none of our worker are exposed to the risks of modern slavery.

What should I do if I can’t attend work?

If you are unable to attend work for reasons of sickness, you should contact our office on 01747 825568 at least an hour before your normal start time on the first day of absence. It is your responsibility to keep Octopus Personnel informed of the status of your illness, and to provide the appropriate sickness certification. Unfortunately, we can not accept sickness notification via email or text message; we must speak to you.

What should I do if I think I have the symptoms of, or have had close contact with someone who has had, COVID-19?

If you, or someone in your household are showing symptoms of Coronavirus, you should get a test.  You can ring 111 for more information or see the “staying at home information” from the NHS:

England

Scotland

Wales

Northern Ireland

If I have to self-isolate, will I be paid?

If you can’t work while you are self-isolating because of COVID-19, statutory sick pay (SSP) is now available from the first day you are off sick.  If you are self- isolating but you are not sick, you may be expected to work from home, on full pay.  If you live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to stay off work.  You do not need to get a note from a GP.

Please note that if you are required to self-isolate because you have returned to the UK from a country which does not have exemption from government restrictions on non-essential travel, the rules are different and you are unlikely to be paid sick pay.

What should I do if I want to take holiday? our payroll questions answered

What do I do if I want to take time off?

Please contact us in writing if you wish to book annual leave. The ‘holiday year’ runs from the 1st April to 31st March of the following year.

Useful Telephone numbers
Octopus Personnel Head Office: 01747 825568
HMRC Tax Office: 0300 200 3300
Student Finance England – Student Loans: 0300 100 0607
National Insurance – Dept. Work & Pensions: 0345 6000643

Ask for help

If you are unsure about any of the information outlined above, please email the office at enquiries@octopuspersonnel.co.uk or call 01747 825568. At Octopus Personnel, we are experts at supporting our temps to ensure you are able to focus on doing the best job you can do.

Years of industry expertise, outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role, and support you once you are there. You can sign up here and call the office on 01747 825568 to arrange an interview. As one of the fastest growing recruitment and employment agencies in the South West of England, we are experts at ensuring that your skills, qualifications and personality match those required by clients. Come in and see us today!

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Navigating the change to an Employer Driven Market

Sandra Smart, Octopus Personnel Director, explains how COVID19 has flipped the candidate driven market on its back, and what the implications are for candidates and employers as we approach recruitment post lockdown in an employer driven market.

For the last couple of years, with unemployment at record lows, we have been operating in a candidate driven market.  Put simply, this meant that high calibre candidates were often receiving multiple job offers, as well as their current employers trying to offer more for them to stay on as their employee.

The focus was on the whole package: more competitive salaries, flexible working patterns, stronger study support and a full career development plan. If a client couldn’t offer what a candidate was looking for, a competitor was.  Clients had to invest heavily in the packages they were offering, but also in selling their culture, brand and reputation to attract top talent.

Thanks to the unprecedented challenges which the business world has met during the Coronavirus pandemic, suddenly the market has become saturated with candidates again, and, make no mistake, many are extremely high-calibre talent. However, during March, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that as a result of the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus crisis, confidence in making hiring and investment decisions fell by 21 percentage points compared with the previous month.

So how does this affect recruitment?  How can you position yourself as an employer to benefit from this situation, attracting these high-quality candidates to your business, what effect will this have on those people seeking employment now, and how can recruitment agencies work to best serve both and ensure the right people are hired for the right jobs?

Image shows connected people icons - Strategic Recruitment in an Employer Driven Market

Strategic Recruitment for an Employer Driven Market

In a employer driven market, it is the companies who call the shots. They hire at their own pace, can focus wholly on their needs, and face little or no competition from peers in the industry.  Due to the COVID19 impact, there are many high-calibre people seeking employment right now and, for those companies who are able to, recruiting now may bring many dividends.

Now, more than ever, we are working closely with our clients to understand how they are managing the crisis, and their strategic operations and workforce planning for the future.  We are there to advise on successful recruitment strategies in practice and the flexibility of different types of recruitment.

We have continued to register high-quality candidates throughout this time to ensure we will be able to present the best qualified candidates, who we believe will dovetail with the company’s culture and vision, ready for virtual interviewing and, where required, digital onboarding to enable our clients to move swiftly and decisively.

Picture of Sandra Smart - Sandra's advice to navigate an Employer Driven Market

Sandra’s advice to clients

Now isn’t the time to abandon all your hard work on culture, brand and reputation, but it is a perfect opportunity to find the right person with a depth of experience and drive who can fully fulfil your role.   Be clear about the job role so candidates can visualise what a typical day at work might be like. Break responsibilities into short, clear job duties.  Be clear about KPIs and decide which qualifications and experience you need.  Think about the teams which this role works within and needs to gel with.  All this information will help your recruitment consultant work hard, better, faster for you in finding the right person.

Image of a star on the floor - How to secure the best talent in an Employer Driven Market

Working with the best talent

For candidates seeking employment, this is the toughest the employment market has been in a long time; it’s going to involve a lot of hard work, rejections and perseverance.  But an employer driven market is not without hope.

As a recruitment agency, this is where we go above and beyond for every one of our candidates.  We are there for the journey, not only talking them through roles, but advising them on changes in the market and how to most effectively self market through CVs and interviews.  As many of our candidates are currently at home, or working from home, we are taking this opportunity to work even more closely with them, coaching them through the job hunt, helping them improve their CVs and keeping them focused and motivated.  These quality relationships mean we are better able to advise our clients about the suitability of our candidates.

Picture of Sandra Smart - Sandra's advice to navigate an Employer Driven Market

Sandra’s advice for candidates

Whilst the market is tough, there are still plenty of things you can do to make yourself as attractive as possible to a new employer.

Be ready

Work with your recruitment consultant to improve your CV, and make sure you tailor it to each application.

Be active

Spend this time learning new skills, becoming part of professional discussions on LinkedIn and networking.

Be bold

Your recruitment consultant can advise you on the challenges of the current market.  This could mean you may need a new direction, be ready to work on a short term contract or explore temping to find that perfect fit.  Be open to new suggestions.

Be resilient

The challenges of this market will mean many candidates, even those exceptionally well-qualified and experienced, are going to experience some nos.  That’s ok.  Ask for feedback, learn what you can and move on.  It will be a yes soon!

How can Octopus Personnel help?

At Octopus Personnel, we are here to help and support you as you navigate these challenges.  Whether you are looking for work or looking for workers, we are here at the end of the phone to help you.  Call us on 01747 825568.  Visit the website to request a call back or click on the send CV button to register with us.

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

The bounce-back of recruitment post COVID 19: frozen or skating on thin ice?

Sandra Smart, Company Director of Octopus Personnel, responds to questions about recruitment post COVID 19, the challenges currently faced by the sector, the opportunities for growth and the long-term changes likely to become sector-wide.

How has the recruitment industry been impacted by the measures introduced to tackle the COVID 19 pandemic?

The impact of COVID 19 has quite simply been unprecedented, with companies either putting a recruitment freeze in place or shifting start dates significantly.  However, this freeze isn’t due to recession; it isn’t due to lack of demand or funds.  Many companies and clients still want to recruit but are frozen themselves due to the nationwide lockdown.

Like many businesses, recruiters have worked extremely hard to adapt to lockdown conditions and provide continuity and the same high-quality service to their clients and candidates remotely.  With more recent news from the Prime Minister and the furlough scheme open, there is definitely some light at the end of the tunnel, unfortunately no-one is clear how long the tunnel may end up being.

Person analysing data in graphs - How has recruitment been impacted - The Bounceback of Recruitment after COVID 19

What is the biggest challenge for your clients?

The biggest challenge for our clients currently is the unknowable.  How long will this go on for?  Between February and March, employer confidence in the economy dropped by 22%, according to the specially-commissioned COVID-19 REC Jobs outlook survey.  With regard to recruiting permanent employees, things have become harder with a clear, short-term slow-down across most sectors.

However, the recruitment industry is vast and wide and when employers think longer-term, it’s clear that recovery is on the cards and they are still looking to hire staff.  So whilst some areas have been extremely hard hit, others have prospered during this time.

The REC survey showed that short-term demand for temporary workers increased by 15%.  Whilst some roles for temporary staff, such as those in retail, hospitality and leisure, simply vanished overnight, other jobs including those in supermarkets, food production, delivery and cleaning increased in demand.

Person holding freshly picked red and green tomatoes - There will be important roles in agriculture - The Bounceback of Recruitment after COVID 19

Another area that in the South West which will continue to create jobs is agriculture. With international workers unable to travel there is a fear that crops will rot in fields and greenhouses, and food very much remains an essential service.

How has Octopus Personnel dealt with the crisis?  What have been your priorities?

Recruitment as an industry is extremely vibrant.  It is high energy and highly social, with dynamic flow between needs of the clients and the candidate.  Our focus during this time has most certainly been the wellbeing of our clients and candidates, supporting our clients with advice and reaching out to our candidates to make sure that nobody feels isolated in these days of self-isolation.

The Octopus Team - The Bounceback of Recruitment after COVID 19

We have a fantastic team who were able to transition to remote working extremely well.  We are used to supporting each other in the office, and we have found new ways to offer than same level of support at home.  Microsoft Teams, Zoom and email have kept us in touch in real time and allowed us to focus on short-term productivity goals which have kept the whole team driving forward.

We have worked hard, wherever possible, to reassign our brilliant temporary workers to those companies and industries which are fulfilling key worker roles, areas where there is still demand for workers.  For those individuals seeking permanent roles, it is about helping them to use this time as productively as possible, to reskill, or upskill, to be ready once lockdown is lifted.  Recruitment post COVID 19 may look quite different, with a dramatic shift from a candidate-driven market, to a client-driven market

Registering and connecting the right candidaates and businesses - The Bounceback of Recruitment after COVID 19

What do you anticipate might be the long-term changes to recruitment moving forwards?

I have been incredibly proud of the way the Octopus team has risen to the challenges of this time, using technology, team spirit and hard work to achieve.  I know we will take many lessons forward from this time and it will alter the way we work.

On a larger scale across the industry I would expect to see wider changes too, such as:

  • much of the interview process moving online
  • development and utilisation of recruitment technology
  • a much greater availability of flexibility and remote working options
  • a review of employment contracts and employee benefits
  • candidates who are open and actively seeking to reskill and upskill
  • a more long-term focus on recruitment strategy and conscientious budgeting
  • a greater focus on flexibility and dynamic team members with proven response to challenge and change
  • the focus to be on retainment and development of staff, as well as ensuring the right people are recruited

When might things get ‘back to normal’?  When might recruitment post COVID 19 bounce back?

I think we can all agree there will be a new ‘normal’, but I do believe that the Government’s measures, especially the furlough scheme, will have a significant impact on businesses’ ability to retain their staff. This will make it quicker and easier for companies to return to previous levels of productivity, something which will be vital for the recruitment sector, opening up the funds and the focus for staff who can continue to drive businesses forward.

For us, we are ready for the bounce-back of recruitment post COVID 19 and prepared to support our clients & candidates effectively.  We have continued to register high-calibre candidates during this time as well as funnelling our quality temporary staff into roles within the key worker industries.   Whatever challenges you are facing, whether you need temporary staff, advice, or simply a chat, Octopus Personnel are here to support you.  Call us on 01747 825568 or visit the website to request a call back.

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.