Embrace HR Aylesbury staff payment changes

With the arrival of the new Tax Year, make sure you are up to date with the changes in minimum wage rates and other statutory payments for the tax year 2024/2025…

For anyone involved in HR or employing people, knowing the annual change in rates for the National Living Wage and other statutory payments is vital. Below we outline what you need to know:

National Living Wage

The following rates are for the National Living Wage (for those aged 21 and over) and the National Minimum Wage (for those of at least school leaving age). These rates change on 1 April every year:

From 1 April 2024, the National Living Wage (NLW) will increase from £10.42 per hour to £11.44 per hour and is now applicable to age 21 and over:

The National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) from 1 April 2024 are:
  Current Rate £

(1.4.2023 to 31.3.2024)

Rates £

From 1.4.2024

National Living Wage 10.42 11.44
21-22 year old rate 10.18 11.44
18-20 year old rate 7.49 8.60
16-17 year old rate 5.28 6.40
Apprentice aged under 19 5.28 6.40


Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they are either:

  • aged under 19
  • aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age if they are:

  • aged 19 or over and have completed the first year of their apprenticeship

Statutory Pay for Parents

From April 2024, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) after the standard six weeks of 90% of pay is £184.03 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. Note the same rate also applies to Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay.

Statutory Sick Pay

From April 2024 Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will increase to £116.75 per week. How much you need to pay an employee depends on the number of qualifying days they normally work each week and how many days they were off sick.

Please also refer to the Guidance for rates and thresholds for employers 2024 to 2025.


If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

When an employee in the care sector is also a carer for someone at home it can be a difficult situation to navigate.

Cecily Lalloo, managing director of Embrace HR, shares some advice on creating a ‘carer-friendly’ workplace and what support is out there for your staff.

Over five million people in the UK are thought to provide unpaid care to someone they love, such as a friend or family member who needs support due to illness, disability or a mental health problem.

According to figures from Carers UK, 2.5 million of these are also in employment, many of whom struggle to manage both work and care.

Balancing employment with caring responsibilities can take a huge toll on the mental and physical health of the carer, with many reporting that they are tired, stressed out and need more support.

As an employer it’s important that you foster a compassionate and supportive environment for staff who may be going through this, but also that you know how to navigate these challenges effectively from a business perspective.

The introduction of the Carers Leave Act

On 6 April, 2024, the Carers Leave Act 2023 for which draft regulations were set out in December 2023, will come into force.

The Act aims to help support unpaid carers to remain in work alongside their caring responsibilities. The Care Act is specifically for adults caring for adults. Young carers and parent-carers of children have protection under the Children and Families Act 2014.

If approved by Parliament, any employee who balances work with unpaid care will be entitled to at least one week’s leave within any 12-month period, to care for, or arrange care for, a dependent with long-term care needs.

According to the Act, dependants with long-term care needs are:

  • ‘A person is a dependant of an employee if they: are a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee; live in the same household as the employee, otherwise than by reason of being the employee’s boarder, employee, lodger or tenant; or reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care’.
  • ‘A dependant of an employee has a long-term care need if: they have an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months; they have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010; or they require care for a reason connected with their old age.’

The leave is unpaid and will be eligible to everyone, regardless of how long they have been with the company and no evidence is required to support a request. It can be taken at any time, non-consecutively.

Not only will having a right to Carer’s Leave support the health and wellbeing of employees with caring responsibilities, but it will also improve retention and recruitment in the workplace, as unpaid carers feel seen and valued for what could be the first time.

Navigating Carers Leave within the private care sector

For those working in the private care sector with families or individuals, navigating Carers Leave may present more of a challenge, especially without the formal workplace structures found in other sectors.

Employees often form part of small, close-knit teams of support workers who work within a clients’ home. Their case managers, normally as line manager, may not be on site every day and they often have a more direct relationship with the client’s family.

In these cases, communication and cooperation are key between the employee and their manager and options should be discussed and considered from both perspectives.

It is crucial that staff are able to be up front about any challenges they may be experiencing and any need they may have to take Carer’s Leave to ensure the support team can continue to provide the best possible standard of care to the client.

Managers should promote an open culture and hold regular one-to-one conversations with team members. Asking questions about their wellbeing as part of discussions around client care and performance, gives employees the opportunity to raise any personal issues that may be affecting them and their work.

Having a supportive manager will encourage employees to come forward about the fact that they are a carer and may need some support and flexibility.

How you can support your employee

While the introduction of the Carer’s Act is welcome, some organisations are advocating for paid leave to be available to help ease the financial burden on carers.

Companies are also urged to think about introducing carer-related policies which go beyond the scope of the Act to further support their employees.

If you are not in a position to give a member of staff paid time off, you could try to limit the financial impact of this, such as agreeing for carers to make up the time where possible.

In some cases, for example, if an employee is caring for a family member who is terminally ill, they may need more than the five days leave granted by the Act.

Under these circumstances it is understandable that they may not be performing to the best of their ability at work. You may notice that they are more tired or stressed than usual, or are generally struggling to cope with the job and would benefit from some time away from the workplace.

It is important to recognise this, not only from the perspective of the employee’s health and wellbeing, but also that of the client they are responsible for and their family.

With the best will in the world, as a small organisation it may not be possible to offer paid leave for a longer period of time, however, there may be other options for support that you can point your employee to.

Financial support for unpaid carers

As an employer you should be able to direct your staff to the information and support that is available to them.

They may be entitled to some financial support from the government, for example:

Attendance Allowance

This helps with extra costs if someone has a disability severe enough that they need someone to help look after them.

Carer’s Allowance

An individual may be entitled to £66.15 a week if they care for someone at least 35 hours a week and get certain benefits.

Carer’s Credit

Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit that helps with gaps in your National Insurance record for those caring for someone 20 hours a week or more.

Disabled Facilities Grant

A Disabled Facilities Grant is awarded by the local authority grant to help towards the cost of adapting the home to enable the person who is looked after to continue to live there.

Some charities also offer grants and financial support:

Carers Trust grants

The Carers Trust awards grants to unpaid carers across the UK. Carers may be able to receive a Carers Fund grant as part of a package of support from their local Carers Trust Network Partner.


A free service that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.

Disability Grants

Offer financial support for those living with a disability and their families, including housing, equipment and holidays.

Changes to Paternity Leave

Employers also need to be aware of changes to the law around Statutory Paternity Leave, which will also come into play from April 2024.

Currently partners are entitled to take paternity leave any time within the first eight weeks after the birth or adoption of a child.

Under the new rules, employees will be able to take paternity leave at any point in the first year and will have the option to split it up into two separate weeks, rather than having to take two weeks together.

They will also only be required to give 28 days’ notice of the leave they intend to take, rather than 15 weeks before the birth, although notice of entitlement must still be given 15 weeks prior.

Employers should ensure that they update their paternity leave policies and ensure that people managers are aware of the upcoming changes, as well as communicating these to employees.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Changes to flexible working and redundancy rights – what employers in the care sector need to know

With some major changes to UK Employment Law coming into force this year, Cecily Lalloo, Managing Director of Embrace HR, discusses what employers in the complex care sector need to be aware of.

New changes to employment law are due to be implemented from April 2024, affecting the rights of employees, including those working in the care sector.

Keeping up to date with changes in employment law and HR practices is essential for employers as Deputies appointed by the Court of Protection, and their clients who employ staff in their homes, not only to mitigate any potential legal issues down the line, but also to ensure you foster a positive work environment for your team.

At Embrace HR, we specialise in helping employers in this sector keep up to date with the latest regulations to ensure they can support their staff with their own wellbeing, but also in offering the best standard of care to their clients.

Here we take a look at two of the key upcoming changes and how these will impact you and your staff.

Changes to flexible working

On 6 April 2024, the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, laid before parliament in December, will come into force, amending the Employment Rights Act 1996 and giving employees more rights around their opportunities for flexible working arrangements.

Under the proposed legislation, employees will no longer be required to have worked for you for at least 26 weeks before they are entitled to make a flexible working request.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will also bring a number of changes that will affect you as an employer and how to deal with these requests.

The new rules state that employees may be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period, and they will no longer be required to set out the effect their requested arrangement will have on the business, nor suggest ways their employer can manage it, as is currently the case.

As an employer you must ensure you deal with any requests, including appeals within two months and before refusing a request, you will be required to consult with the employee.

Why is flexible working important?

Looking after the health and well-being of your staff is crucial, no matter where they work.

In the care sector, their day-to-day role may involve a great deal of stress and responsibility, working with vulnerable individuals and their families and working long and unsociable hours

There are many reasons why a member of staff might need to submit a flexible working request, for example, to manage childcare, elderly care, or simply pursuing other interests outside of work.

Flexible working arrangements can be beneficial for both the employee and the employer.

Allowing employees to maintain a better work-life balance has been shown to reduce stress and lead to greater overall job satisfaction, ultimately resulting in higher levels of productivity and staff retention.

By having more flexibility in working hours, it opens up more opportunities for those who have parental or caregiver responsibilities, or those who may have to travel long distances to commute, creating a more inclusive environment which your employees will undoubtedly value.

There is already a fair amount of flexibility when working in the care sector.

For those staff who do not have set patterns of work, they may request this, which can also prove beneficial to both employer and employee.

This will assist in both the management of time and other responsibilities.

The client will have consistency and continuity in the workforce and in the workplace, and the staff will be able to plan their work time around other activities.

What action should you take as an employer?

Failure to comply with employment law can end up being costly in terms of time management and may even result in claims being put to an employment tribunal, which no one wants to find themselves embroiled in, and will have a detrimental effect on the morale of staff, management and clients

Here are a few things you may wish to consider in helping you and your staff prepare for the upcoming changes.

  • Review your current policies to ensure they align with the new regulations, updating and these to reflect the changes where necessary.
  • As an employer it is your responsibility to ensure your staff know about the changes to their employment rights and opportunities for flexible working, so communicate these clearly and be equipped to answer any questions or concerns they might have in response.
  • If you are a case manager, deputy or other legal representative for a client who has staff working in your client’s homes, ensure they are aware of the legislative changes, as well as other family or parents in the home who may need to have an understanding of this.
  • Ensure there is a clear and formal process through which employees can submit flexible working requests and that they understand this process, offering additional training or support where necessary.
  • Give staff the opportunity to provide feedback on these processes in order to identify issues or areas in need of improvement — and ensure these are managed through the appropriate mechanisms.
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of flexible working policies and how these are impacting your employee’s wellbeing, satisfaction and overall workplace performance and productivity.

Changes to redundancy protection – what you need to know

Another important change to be aware of, protects an employee from being made redundant whilst pregnant or taking a period of family leave from work.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 will see an extension to the redundancy protection period for those affected by this.

Employees will be protected from redundancy during pregnancy and for a period of 18 months after the birth, or placement of a child for those taking maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

This is to ensure these employees are not at a disadvantage by being or having been absent from the workplace, should an organisation find itself in the unfortunate position of having to make redundancies.

What action should you take?

As discussed above, you should review and update your current policies to reflect these changes and communicate with your employees clearly to ensure they know their rights, while addressing any concerns they might have.


For more support around upcoming changes to employment regulations and to discuss this in more detail, contact the team at Embrace HR via www.embracehr.co.uk

If you would like to discuss how you can manage flexible working and redundance rights, or have a chat about your general HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

image of Pink roses and wooden heart

I could not let Valentine’s Day pass without a mention – again.

The article here was published in 2017 and is still relevant. To add to it, I have come across a recent publication on the matter from HRGrapevine – and included an excerpt from the article at the end of this one.

We spend so much time at work with our colleagues, often sharing the same interests, goals, aspirations, and let’s not forget the space we share at work. So, it is not unnatural to find ‘chemistry happening’ … and people falling in love with their work colleagues. When the heart rules, the head has no chance!

Many of us also know that anything to do with love is not all butterflies and roses. And there are definitely pitfalls when the love of your life is your work colleague, and when those feelings start to deepen or, alas, to fade.

Try not to play Cupid!

I believe that we, as HR professionals, have a part to play in Love in the Workplace. No, I don’t mean as Cupid … look what happened in the case of Craddock v Fontoura t/a Countyclean … The boss tried to bring two people together and the employment tribunal found that his attempts to “play Cupid” with his staff constituted sexual harassment, despite his apparently benign motive – see No. 10 in the Personnel Today article mentioned below.

This article in Personnel Today highlights 10 potential problems with workplace romances. The issues are all too true and should be considered by every organisation, no matter its size.

The article mentions that many large corporates have in place policies to govern … L-O-V-E. I’m pleased to say that I have had direct experience in Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s) where it is even more important to have some guidelines about this sensitive matter.

To have or not to have a Romance Policy

Many years ago, the management in a company I worked with were very aware of the impact that workplace romances could have and we had a debate about whether to have a romance policy, or not to have a policy.

Whether a policy, or guidelines are decided, the main thing, as with everything to do when working with people, is communication. Early communication by a manager with the romantics concerned – usually separately – is a big YES. It is important to ask if there is anything in it, if it looks like rumours abound or if you can see or feel that there may be ‘something going on’. If it is confirmed, then the ‘talk’ would be about ensuring that their love-life does not interfere with work. To discuss the importance of maintaining a professional presence and ensuring that if there are problems between each other that it is sorted away from the workplace. It is also a good idea to tell the two concerned that if their relationship starts to sour and they find it is difficult to work together, they should let someone know – hopefully their manager. If the organisation’s guidelines or policies are open and freely communicated, your people will offer the information when they believe the time is ripe.

Managers have a very important role to play at work and need the skills to deal with sensitive matters such as this. I know that there is never a simple answer to most workplace issues and sorting things out often takes longer than you would expect. I take my hat off to the good managers who are around and are not afraid to deal with sticky workplace problems.

Often small business owners and managers do not have the time or prefer to keep out of dealing with sensitive issues and we, as HR professionals, work alongside them especially to take the hassle out of HR.

Chemistry at Work

I’m very pleased to say that I have seen Love blossom in the workplace. I have watched Love journey on to become a loving and caring relationship. I have witnessed Love ring out the wedding bells and I have beamed as Love produced tiny babies … all from the Chemistry at Work.

In the instances of which I am aware, those lovebirds did not make their colleagues feel uncomfortable at all. Congratulations!

When things are not going right, of course, it always causes a problem. The Personnel Today article mentions that when this happens, very often the couple sort things out themselves, even if it means one or both of them decide to move on. It’s always a tough time for all – who are you aligned with? Do you invite one out, or the other? Someone gets hurt. Someone draws the short straw.

For managers, this will be a very sensitive time because it may well affect productivity as well as the morale in the workplace. How do you step in? Do you take any action? Again, sensitive and open communication is needed. Managers are not counsellors, unless they have been trained, and they should not assume this role.

I say that when love is in the air at work, it is another instance where managers should not bury their heads in the sand but share the happiness and ensure that the couple know what the Romance Policy at Work is about.

Having said that I wish all at work a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

May you find your ‘lobster’* in your happy workplace if you haven’t done so already.

*Thanks to Phoebe from Friends!
14 February 2017

Republished February 2024 – excerpt from HRGrapevine:

Setting sensible rules

“Instead, employers should assess the likely implications of any romantic relationships according to the nature of their business and staffing structure and make the necessary provisions. Whilst there is no legal requirement for employers to adopt a formal office romance policy, it is a sensible approach for most employers to impose rules around personal relationships at work, with the aim of ensuring that individual members of staff are not open to allegations of impropriety, bias, abuse of authority or conflict of interest.”

“For example, one rule could require employees to disclose a relationship, particularly if it involves a manager and their direct report. Similarly, employers could mandate that employees in relationships with colleagues should always behave in a professional manner, paying due consideration to colleagues, customers and clients – no PDAs on the shop floor for example!

“We would advise reviewing your Employee Handbook and ensuring you have all the relevant policies in place, including a code of conduct, grievance procedure and rules on harassment. Crucially, make sure you have a plan in place to communicate these policies and make sure all employees are fully aware of them. On the same note, ensure that managers have had the right training and are equipped to deal with matters such as harassment claims.”

Striking a balance

“Workplace relationships are a notoriously difficult area for HR professionals to navigate. You want to respect an employee’s private life but also protect your business interests. It’s all about striking the right balance.”


If you would like to discuss how you can manage employee relationships, or have a chat about your general HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.
T: 07767 308717 or send us a message.
Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.


Embrace HR Aylesbury Workplace Cultire

Changes happen all the time, everywhere, anywhere and we have to be prepared to update skills and keep them relevant. Working in the care sector it is vital that employees are trained to an acceptable standard, both for mandatory training but also for specific training that their employer needs.

There is a cost to training, not only financial but in time to attend and complete training, as well as the learning curve to put into practice what is learnt. Employees come and go. How do you capture the financial investment in their development, skills and knowledge? When an employee has worked with a client for a fair amount of time after the training, it is a given that they will have used their investment in training to improve working with the client and making a difference to that person’s care and life. How much can you claw back of the financial costs and when?

Can you recoup the training expense when they leave?

Recouping or ‘clawing back’ training expenses is not an easy decision. If you intend to do so, make sure that your employee knows that this is the expectation. Often the employee contract will detail what and when costs will be recouped. It is a good idea to discuss recouping costs early in the employment relationship, even at the interview stage. Most people want to be developed and are quite happy that they may need to repay costs if they leave.

It should not come as a surprise.

When employees need to attend training that is paid for by you, they should be asked to sign an individual training costs agreement detailing the name of the training course, the training provider, the date of the training and an estimate for the cost of the training. This allows for transparency so that the employee is aware of the investment and their obligations to repay should they leave.

An individual Personal Training Record should be maintained and updated for each new training course or refresher training that is completed.

What training should be repaid?

Every Employer will have a different view on what should be repaid. Below is our view of what might be seen as reasonable to recoup.

a) Mandatory training

Keep a training record with a list of mandatory training courses. A training plan for individual Employees should be discussed with them at induction and periodically during 1-2-1 meetings or supervisions. Where the job requires specific training that is set out in a job advert, the relevant certificates/evidence must be seen and recorded. A manager, team leader or family member can be responsible for this activity, or the HR provider is the ideal person to keep such records. If mandatory training is required to be repaid on leaving, this must be clear at the start of employment. However, since attracting and retaining care staff is challenging, many Employers take a view that some training will not be clawed back.

b) Additional training

What additional training courses relevant to the Employer’s specific needs are required? Prior to training being booked, discuss the training requirements with the Employee as well as the commitment that is made for the investment and for repayment. These discussions could take place at induction for new starters or during 1-2-1 meetings or supervision for existing staff. The overall training plan for an individual should include additional training, with a plan in place for when it needs to be carried out. Conduct a training needs analysis periodically to keep up to date with training requirements as they may change from time to time.

When will training take place?

Consideration must be given to whether training should take place during the probationary period or after employment is confirmed. The probationary period is a trial for both the new starter and the Employer. If neither want to continue the relationship and training has already taken place, will you, as Employer, claw back the cost of training?

Take time to consider training agreements and talk to your employees about its implementation.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.
If you would like to receive our newsletter then sign up here.
Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR

Set expectations

Employers in the UK, whether an individual or large or small business, who expect their workers to drive during the course of their employment, must comply with the necessary legal requirements. This guidance aims to outline the key steps to take when checking employees’ driving licences and provides an overview of the rules for driving in the UK.

We recommend that you set expectations at the start of employment by including in your Induction a topic such as: “Driving the employer’s vehicle and driving your own vehicle on the employer’s business”.

If it is essential that your employee drives as part of their job role, this must be stated in their contract. The employee must be made aware of the consequences should they be disqualified from driving. If they are disqualified, how will it affect their job role? Before any action is taken consult with an HR professional or employment law solicitor.

It is important to check the status of the driving licence before an employee is permitted to drive the employer’s vehicle to ensure that the insurance is not invalidated.

Where an employee is required to drive extensively during the course of the job role, encourage them to undertake defensive driving courses or other relevant training to enhance their driving skills and safety awareness. You may wish to offer them time off for the training, or even contribute towards the cost of training as part of their development.

In this document we will refer to “employee”, but the guidance applies to people who in employment status are known as “workers”.

Checking the employee’s driving licence

  1. Obtain consent before checking an employee’s driving licence. It is crucial to obtain their explicit consent. This can be in the form of a signed consent form or an email from the employee.
  2. Use the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) Electronic Service to check an employee’s driving licence. The system allows employers to verify driving entitlements, penalties and the validity of the licence using the code generated by the employee.
  3. Verify the photocard. Ensure that the employee holds a valid photocard licence.
  4. Check the licence categories. Review the driving categories specified on the licence to confirm that the employee is authorised to drive the vehicle they are assigned to.
  5. Check the address on the licence is the employee’s address that is registered with you
  6. Check expiry dates regularly to ensure that the licence has not expired. I recommend at least an annual check of the licence.

Rules for driving in the UK

  1. The Highway Code is the rule book for driving in the UK.
  2. Employees must be at least 17 years old to drive a car and hold an appropriate driving licence.
  3. Check your insurance. Many business-use insurances have an age limit restriction. If a driver is under their age restriction, special authority is required and usually premium is paid.
  4. It is essential that an employee’s driving licence is valid, has not been revoked or disqualified and has not expired.
  5. Your employee must advise you if they gain any penalty points or disqualifications. Keep a record of these points and disqualifications.
  6. Ensure that employees who drive the employer’s vehicles are covered by the appropriate insurance policies.
  7. If your employee drives their own vehicle for business purposes, request evidence of insurance and check regularly. Confirm that their vehicle meets MOT requirements if they are expected to carry a passenger. Many insurances include occasional business use for individuals.
  8. Encourage employees who are required to drive extensively for their job to undertake defensive driving courses or other relevant training to enhance their driving skills and safety awareness.

To summarise

As an employer it is vital to follow the guidelines to maintain legal compliance and prioritise the safety of your employees as well as other road users.

Driver risk assessments should be carried out and staff trained. Contact health and safety or other professionals who are competent for further information.

This guidance is for general information and does not constitute legal advice. For specific legal advice do consult a qualified professional.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.
If you would like to receive our newsletter then sign up here.
Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Photo of London night sky

Cecily Lalloo, MD of Embrace HR, independent specialist provider to the complex care sector, discusses how to properly support night workers in their roles, to protect their own wellbeing while enabling them to deliver the best possible care to those who need it.

Night work is commonplace in all aspects of healthcare, and is essential in delivering the care that is needed to people recovering from life-changing injury or in supporting them with ongoing complex needs.

And while this is an accepted and necessary way of working in care, to provide a 24-hour continuous service, the potential impact on health and safety must not be lost by employ-ers of those workers tasked with delivering care.

Employers have to ensure they comply with legislation in this area, to prevent fatigue, burnout and illness arising from employees who are not properly supported.

Risk assessments must be carried out as employers have a legal duty to assess the risks to the health and safety of employees (and risks to the health and safety of persons not in their employ-ment) to which they are exposed while they are at work. In the UK the Working Time Regulations 1998 sets out maximum working time which must be – supported by efficient management of employ-ees, to ensure night workers can achieve acceptable levels of sleep and rest, despite the disruption to their circadian rhythms, and protect their health and wellbeing.

Here, we look at some of the main issues employers need to consider.

Risks for night workers

For people who work nights, or those who work unsociable or very long shifts, these hours are at odds with the more accepted working patterns of working during the day.

Our circadian rhythm, which expects we will be awake during the day and sleep at night, can be disrupted by night work – and sleep is essential to mental and physical restoration to enable us to work effectively. It allows the body to recover from physical or cognitive ac-tivities and helps to protect against fatigue and anxiety.

However, for those working during the night, this is something that is less easy to achieve, and can lead to illness or the exacerbation of existing conditions.

Chronic fatigue resulting from night work is associated with conditions including chronic gastritis, peptic ulcers and cardiovascular illnesses such as hypertension and coronary heart disease. A UCL study found that working more than 11 hours places a person at a 67 per cent higher risk of developing heart disease compared with those who work a typi-cal seven or eight hour day.

Furthermore, fatigue or poor sleep can lead to a greater risk of errors or accidents, which could be of huge consequence when caring for individuals with acute needs.

Legislation supports night workers in being able to access regular medical checks, and if a night worker becomes ill and there is clear evidence to link their symptoms with night work, the employer must reassign the worker to other duties.

But in helping to reduce the chances of workers becoming ill or their wellbeing being com-promised, employers can take pre-emptive steps in protecting workforce and their wellbe-ing.

Risk assessments are a key part of that, and can ensure the workers tasked with deliver-ing care are able to properly protect those they are supporting.

Risk assessments

By properly managing risks and identifying the hazards of night work and helping to miti-gate them, workers are better supported to do their jobs and deliver the often life-saving care that is needed.

Employers must commit to addressing risks and protecting the safety, health and wellbe-ing of workers – which, as well as being best practice, can also help reduce sickness and absence, reduce staff turnover, reduce errors and accidents and increase productivity. Night works should be offered an annual night workers assessment.

A four stage process should be implemented:

1. Establish a system to manage the risks

2. Assess the risks in your workplace

3. Take action to reduce the risks

4. Review arrangements regularly.

A person must be appointed within the organisation to oversee this, and it is vital that workers are consulted and involved in any decisions about shift work.

Factors including fatigue should be prominent in a risk assessment, as well as other as-pects which we know affect healthcare workers such as workload, work activity, duration of shifts, rest breaks within and between shifts, mental and physical demands and welfare.

Risk groups among night workers – such as pregnant workers, younger and older workers, those with existing health conditions and new and temporary workers – should have their particular circumstances taken into account.

Monitor and review

Implementing the four step risk assessment process will reduce the likelihood of potential problems, but cannot always prevent them – which is why workers should be encouraged to report any problems as soon as possible

Supervisors have a role in identifying and reporting problems and if workers are concerned about their personal health, they should be encouraged to visit their GP.

Sometimes it will be necessary for the business to alter the shift schedule or make changes to the work environment. In this case, workers should be consulted in advance on the proposed changes.

While these changes may bring about improvements, they may also create problems, so monitoring any arrangements in place, to ensure they are working for everyone involved, is hugely important.

In any event, arrangements for night or shift workers should be reviewed periodically, to ensure their effectiveness.

Good practice recommendations

While carrying out robust risk assessments and implementing their findings will help the unique features of every business and every care situation, generally there are a number of approaches employers can take to support the wellbeing of their team.

Clearly every situation and business is different, and this may not be appropriate in every one; while it is not legally binding to take such steps, it can be advisable if appropriate to demonstrate the implementation of good practice.

• Plan a workload that is appropriate to the length and timing of the shift.

• Schedule a variety of tasks to be completed during the shift to allow workers some choice about the order in which they are done

• Avoid scheduling demanding, dangerous, monotonous and/or safety critical work to-wards the end of night shifts

• Avoid placing workers on permanent night shifts, and if possible,

• Offer a choice between regular and rotating shift schedules

• Where possible, arrange shift start/end times to be convenient for public transport or consider providing transport for workers on particular shifts

• Limit shifts to a maximum of 12 hours (including overtime)

• Consider if shifts of a variable length or flexible start/end times could offer a suitable compromise

• Allow workers some discretion over when they take a break where possible, but discour-age saving break time to leave work earlier

• Try to limit consecutive working days to a maximum of five to seven days and ensure there is adequate rest time between successive shifts

• Ensure supervisors and team members with responsibility for shift working arrangements are aware of the risks of night work and can recognise problems caused by this

• Provide training and information to workers, management and supervisors on the risks associated with night work and on coping strategies.

The announcement that there is a bank holiday on Monday 19 September 2022, in the United Kingdom to mark the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will have an effect on many workers.

My diary has been re-arranged, as I am sure others have had to do too. I am pleased that it is a bank holiday as I know that many people, not only in the UK but in other countries, will want to watch or take part in one way or another.

I have had messages expressing sympathy for the late Queen’s passing from my family and friends across the globe – from Africa, Brazil, Australia and the United States. It is an historical occasion – the State Funeral of a respected, dignified woman of integrity. It is fitting that the day is marked by a bank holiday.

What is the effect on employees in your organisation?

The Government is encouraging employers to give workers paid time off where possible and practical.

Many organisations require people to work over public holidays if they are essential services. One cannot simply decide that because of a bank holiday, the role in some of these services stops.

Holiday entitlement is dependent on what is set out in a contract of employment or agreement.

Is the holiday entitlement in the contract stated as 20 days plus public and bank holidays or 28 days including public and bank holidays? If it is 20 days plus public and bank holidays, workers are entitled to an extra day off, although if the normal 8 bank holidays are listed, this is not the case. If holiday is stated as 28 days including public and bank holidays, then there is no automatic entitlement to the extra day.

It is important that employers check contracts and advise their employees of the rules governing the bank holiday.

If it is not practical to provide paid time off, an employer may consider allowing workers to watch the funeral at work or provide time off in lieu if staff are required to work that day. 

Where a worker’s shift is already set for Monday 19, there is an expectation that they will continue as normal. However, there may be reasons that they cannot work that day.

For instance, they may have childcare responsibilities as children will be off school. If so, then it is important that employers listen to the reasons, and where possible make alternative suitable arrangements.

Parents may apply for dependent leave, which is normally unpaid, for an emergency. We have had just over a week’s notice so this may not be applicable. Some people may want to request annual holiday if they still have some entitlement.

This is time for all employers to be sensitive and to ensure open communication with their employees.


If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here. If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, and small businesses, from recruitment through to exit.

Professional Boundaries

The quality of a support worker’s relationship with their client is very important. It is essential to create a warm, kind, homely and friendly environment. Sometimes, however, this closeness can blur professional boundaries and cause misunderstandings and difficulties for the support worker and the parents of the young people in their care.

Many of our clients are young children and parents and family are the first point of contact on a daily basis with the support worker. It is really important that both the support worker and the parents work together to understand their roles, their limits and the employer’s policies.

Professional boundaries are the rules and limits that prevent the lines between the support worker and the client from becoming blurred. These boundaries are there to help maintain a safe working environment.

It is important to set boundaries from the outset. Where parents are acting on behalf of the young person (the employer) they often assume the role of informal team leader, and therefore need to draw the line between what is appropriate and what is not. There is a fine balance between being a supportive employer and having a personal affiliation between both employees and family members. It can be difficult differentiating between being a worker and being a friend.

Managing Boundaries

The key to managing many of these boundaries is understanding the difference between a professional and a personal relationship and ensuring that behaviour always remains on the right side of the line.

Professional relationships are time bound. Employees have a distinct role and purpose with some structure. The professional has a responsibility for the welfare of their client, and those family around them, and there are rules and boundaries that guide the relationship such as their contract, job description and care plans.

Support workers are paid workers and not friends, although friendships can blossom, but when dealing with work issues, friendships need to take second place. Relationships need to be professional not personal.

Once a relationship has been allowed to stray into personal areas, it is much harder to maintain other professional boundaries. When a parent, on behalf of the employer, then does behave in a professional manner, employees may be surprised, unhappy and resentful as they could have been expecting a personal response.

Examples of Boundaries

It can be a tricky balance to know how much personal information to share with an employee. It is acceptable to talk generally about family and personal life if it helps to build a relationship with the support worker and vice versa.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of potential issues that can cross boundaries:

  • Not respecting each other’s privacy;
  • Visiting outside of contracted working hours without an invitation;
  • Buying, selling or lending personal items or money;
  • Discussing personal issues at length;
  • Postings on personal Facebook or other personal social media outlets without explicit consent;
  • Accepting or giving gifts other than at special occasions such as Christmas or birthdays (gifts should be of a nominal value);
  • Treating each other with respect and without favouritism.


It is challenging to find where that boundary should be, especially where the line may already have been breached. But, with open communication about how parents want boundaries to work in the family home, and with support from deputy’s offices, case managers, and HR advisers, the right professional boundaries can promote much healthier relationships that are respectful, safe and meaningful.


If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here. If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, and small businesses, from recruitment through to exit.