Multi Racial Women at Work Embrace HR Aylesbury

When one employee is the ‘golden child’ it can have a negative effect on the rest of your workforce, and it needn’t just apply to individuals. So what is it and what can you do about it?

Positive Bias

You may not have come across the term ‘halo effect’, but you’re bound to have heard the term ‘golden boy/girl’. This may have applied to another pupil when you were at school, or even to one of your siblings.

The halo effect is an unconscious judgment of a person, company or product which subsequently influences their thoughts and feelings about him/her or it. It explains how our overall impression of someone, or something, can colour our perceptions.

For example, at school, there may have been that one child who seemed to be the model student in reception class – never told off, lovely neat handwriting, well ahead on their reading. Or they may have looked like an angelic child who is always chosen for every opportunity – such as sports events or meeting important visitors – throughout their school life. As you got older, perhaps you realised that they weren’t necessarily the best sportsperson, or best public speaker – and started to question why they always got chosen.

It was the halo effect. The teachers, in our example, recognised a child who looked as if they were the ideal student at a young age and never gave them any trouble in the classroom; they perceived everything they did as being at the level of this mythical model student.

If you can remember how that made you and others in the classroom feel – maybe jealous, forgotten, even inferior – you can now take those feelings and transfer them to your adult members of staff.

We know from first-hand experience that this still happens, even in today’s world, and must make every effort, if it doesn’t come naturally, to make a conscientious effort to look past the obvious to find the many positives beneath the façade.

The Halo Effect at Work

The same thing can easily happen in a work situation. An employee makes a good impression when they join the firm – maybe they offer up a clever solution to a problem or get great feedback from a client. They may just be incredibly enthusiastic. Or it could even be something more personal – a hobby they share with a manager, or that they were referred for the job by a senior member of staff.

This creates an impression that remains with them as they work within the organisation. They may not do anything else of outstanding value but if everyone thinks they must be good because the firm’s owner recommended them, or because they appear to be enthused and positive about the work, they are automatically in an advantageous position, when compared with other staff members.

This bias afforded them will, naturally, mean that other staff will not be viewed so positively, even if they are doing a similar job to a similar standard. This can of course lead to resentment, especially if our ‘golden child’ is receiving opportunities and perks that the others aren’t getting.

Interestingly, the opposite is also true. The reverse of the halo effect is referred to as the ‘horns effect’ or the ‘devil’s horns effect’. This is where an initial negative characteristic during a first impression spurs negativity bias, the subsequent impact of any negatives are then greater as a result.

It’s Not Just About People 

The halo effect can also apply to the service you are providing and/or your brand. As they say, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and that equally applies in the care sector.

The client’s dealings with your organisation – even before a support worker or carer steps through their door – will also have an impact on their first impression. If they have received great customer service, and clear and transparent communication, they will be more likely to look upon that support worker favourably when they first meet them.

In addition to first impressions, the halo effect can be linked client satisfaction and fulfilment of their complex care needs. Often the quality of care is associated with factors such as cleanliness, maintenance, noise, and food.

What’s the Answer?

With respect to individuals in the workplace, the first thing is to train your senior staff and managers, so that they understand what the halo effect is, and how to recognise if anyone is receiving a positive bias. This often starts at the recruitment stage, with a bias leaning towards interviewees who have a common interest with a manager, or who excel in one particular interview test, which can encourage recruiters to gloss over other less-favourable traits.

This can also happen once the person is employed. If they, for instance, have great results in one area, there might be a tendency to overlook some of their less impressive performances – perhaps how they communicate with other members of staff or clients. HR needs to be aware of this so that they can be proactive when it comes to things such as disciplinary hearings and performance reviews.

In terms of your company and levels of service, do consider the following in respect of your client’s satisfaction:

  1. First Impressions – could your communications be improved? Think look and feel, tone of voice and presentation.
  2. Cleanliness – you’ve heard the expression that cleanliness is next to godliness? Never has a truer word been spoken in connection with care! Cleanliness should be always at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
  3. Maintenance – ensure tools and equipment are maintained, not only in terms of operation but cosmetically too.
  4. Noise – consider how your carers conduct themselves and where they spend time and communicate when on their breaks, including the volume of their voices and any mobile devices.
  5. Food – remember that, in your clients’ eyes, presentation and delivery are just as important as meeting their dietary needs.

Further Reading

You might be interested in this free ebook entitled: The 17 Proven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction & Experience. Although predominantly aimed at hospital care, it may offer some useful insights.

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, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace Antiracism

With awareness of racial issues more prominent than ever, now is a good time to ensure that you are fully conversant with the relevant rules, regulation and legislation, as it applies to the care sector as it does any other…

Recent government figures show that a large proportion of ethnic minority workers make up the healthcare sector [GOV.UK: Employment by sector 15/5/20] that includes public administration, education and health so it is vital that anyone managing staff in the care sector handles any matters surrounding racial equality in the correct manner.

Protection against discrimination due to someone’s race is provided by the Equality Act 2010. Race discrimination, which has been illegal in the UK since 1976, occurs when someone is unfairly disadvantaged for reasons related to their race – this includes for their colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins.

Factors at work that are protected by the Equality Act include:

  • recruitment and selection
  • promotion
  • training, pay and benefits
  • redundancy and dismissal
  • terms and conditions of work.

First let’s clarify the two types of discrimination: direct and indirect.

What is direct discrimination?

This is when a person is treated in a less favourable manner because of their race, when compared to others. For instance, if a care assistant or support worker of the same experience was paid less or expected to work less sociable hours, because of their race.

What is indirect discrimination?

This is when a particular provision or criteria puts a person of a certain race at a disadvantage, For example, if staff who don’t work on Saturdays are not eligible for promotion. If you have Jewish staff who observe the sabbath on Saturdays so are unable to work, that could be seen as indirect discrimination, as it disadvantages a racial group.

Changing attitudes within your organisation 

Organisations that promote an open culture of respect and dignity for their employees, and who are shown to value difference are more likely to have acceptable attitudes among their workforce.

It is important to show by actions that you will address any racism in the workplace – deal with any matters that come to your attention as soon as possible.

Create an anti-racism culture by:

  • Making it clear what your organisation’s values are, and also ensure it is clear that there is a zero-tolerance policy on racism
  • Tackle ways of working across your organisation, from people management to operational matters, to ensure systemic racism is stamped out
  • Ensure that any sustained action to challenge racism is shown to come from the managers and that it is clear that there is a commitment to change
  • Carry out a critical appraisal of your people management system
  • Ensure there are safe spaces to talk, to complain, to share experiences and so on
  • Be transparent in what you are doing and ensure that there is the opportunity for two-way communication.

Claims of racism in the workplace

As an employer, you are responsible for making sure that discrimination does not happen in your workplace. If a member of your staff is accused of racism, be aware that you can be responsible – it is called ‘vicarious liability’.

The law requires you to do everything reasonably possible to protect your staff from racial discrimination. If an employee feels that you have not looked after them under your ‘duty of care’ towards your staff, and that they cannot continue to work within your organisation, they could have a case for constructive dismissal.

You must investigate any claim of harassment or discrimination, otherwise you could find yourself subject to an employment tribunal. By taking the claim seriously you send out a clear message that racism will not be tolerated, that employees can expect to be helped if there is a problem and show that you make the workplace a fair place to be.

It is also prudent to note that employers are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees ‘in the course of employment’.

Best practice

It is also good practice to ensure that your staff are aware of any racial issues when it comes to caring for their clients and patients. ‘Race Equality in Health and Social Care’ from the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland is a useful document to review.

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, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace Right to Work Checks

From 1 July, the rules surrounding the right to work checks for EEA (European Economic Area) nationals have changed. Make sure you are up to date…

Right to Work

Updated guidance has been released by the government when it comes to right to work checks. Within the care sector there is a high proportion of workers from outside the UK, so it is vital that the correct checks are carried out to ensure you, as the employer, are not liable for a civil penalty.

Please note, these checks must be carried out before day one of the employment start date.

Need-to-know

  • Employers can be subject to a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each employee who does not have the right to work in the UK, if the correct checks were not carried out.
  • Note that companies need to have a sponsor license to hire most workers from outside the UK. Find out how to apply at www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers.

What has Changed?

From 1 July 2021, EEA nationals (and workers from Switzerland) will have to demonstrate their right to work. This will be done using the Home Office online service – and it will be relevant to their immigration status, not their nationality. An online check is required for workers who only have digital proof of their immigration status in the UK. This applies to most EU (European Union), EEA, or Swiss citizens.

From this date an employer will no longer be able to take ID cards of EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens as proof of right to work.

Note that employers will not have to carry out retrospective checks on employees who are EEA nationals and who were employed on or before 30 June 2001. This applies as long as the initial right to work check was undertaken in line with right to work legislation and the Home Office guidance.

Case Study

We recently interviewed a Turkish national who works in the care industry. They had entered the UK six months ago on a self-employed visa.

So with these new laws in place, were we able to recruit them?

Turkey is neither an EU or EEA country. (The EEA includes EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. While Switzerland is neither an EU or an EEA member it is part of the single market. so Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.)

The ECAA 1, the self-employed Turkish Businessperson visa, allows Turkish citizens to form a new business or join an existing business. This visa requires the individual to show that they have the funds necessary to cover their living and business expenses, as well as any expenses of their dependents.

In essence, the requirements mean that the individual will not seek benefits to cover their expenses. The Turkish national we interviewed could have worked with our client as a self-employed person under HMRC rules, However, our client needed a full-time person who could cover various shifts, including nights. The Turkish national had other clients and would not have been able to commit and withdrew.

Find out more about the rules for recruiting workers from outside the UK at www.gov.uk/guidance/recruiting-people-from-outside-the-uk.

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, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace Misty McCrory

We think it is high time you learn more about our fabulous team here at Embrace HR Limited. So we are kicking off our team spotlights by introducing our newest member, Misty McCrory, who joined us earlier this year….

Introducing Misty McCrory

Q: What is your role at Embrace HR Limited and what qualities will you bring to it?

A: I have joined Embrace as the Senior HR Adviser and I’m bringing with me 20+ years’ experience to the role – I really have dealt with all manner of HR queries! I am really friendly and approachable and have experience in all aspects of HR including managing disciplinary and grievance procedures, policy development and recruitment. I can provide advice and support to all management levels on all manner of employment law issues.

Q: When did you start at Embrace HR Limited?

A: I joined the company on 12 April 2021, initially for 2 days a week, but from the 4 May full time.

Q: Why should someone listen to your advice?

A: I am Chartered MCIPD and have spent the last 15 years working in Higher Education. Prior to that I worked for a Pub company as an HR administrator and learned a lot of the basics there. There is nothing I haven’t seen or heard!

Q: What does Chartered MCIPD mean?

A: Chartered MCIPD means that I am a Chartered Member of the CIPD – the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development – a professional body for experts in people at work. As a Member, the CIPD recognises that I am an experienced people professional working operationally while thinking strategically; and I deliver people solutions that drive change within organisations and/or the profession.

Q: What do you like best about working within Human Resources?

A: Good question! For me it’s because I like dealing with lots of different people and being able to problem solve. I enjoy the variety of problems that can come about, no day is the same. I enjoy talking to people and helping where I can.

Q: What are you looking forward to most as a result of joining the Embrace HR team?

A: Given what I enjoy about HR, it’s the variety of clients and queries, feeling like I am making a difference and meeting lots of new people. Also working for a small team – the three other members of the team are so lovely and have made me feel very welcome and comfortable in a short space of time.

Q: What challenges do you envisage with your new role?

A: I’m looking forward to learning how the Care sector works, meeting lots of different clients and understanding their different ways of working. I’m used to working within a company where they must take my advice and don’t always want to, whereas being in a more consultative environment, my advice doesn’t have to be agreed with or followed through!

Q: Describe your typical day

A: Well it’s still early days here at Embrace, but presently I’ll check emails first thing, write a to-do list, (I love a good to-do list!) do the school run, catch up with the team and, if it all goes to plan, work through all that days’ tasks. In the afternoon, I’ll catch up with the team again, do the school run in reverse and try to finish off anything outstanding. Sometimes I have to scrap the to do list from the morning, as the day rarely goes how you plan it, especially if it’s taken up with numerous telephone calls and virtual meetings.

Q: And finally, what makes you happy?

A: That’s an easy one! My husband and two children. I have a 10-year-old daughter who loves dancing, in particular Irish dancing, pre-lockdown I would have been travelling around the country to Irish Feis dance competitions! My son is 14 and plays County level tennis, so we spend a lot of time taking him to tournaments. Both of them make me so proud as they are dedicated to their art sport and always work hard.

You can contact Misty, by email at: misty.mccrory@embracehr.co.uk, by telephone on 01296 761288 or contact us here.

Look out for future team spotlights on the other members of our team!

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, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR Mental health awareness week

As we enter Mental Health Awareness week, we take a look at how supporting your employees  can help with staff retention…

Mental health might be a bigger issue within your team than you think. With one in four adults in the UK experiencing a mental health issue at least once during their lifetime, you need to consider that a quarter of your workforce could be affected at one time or another.

Mental health covers a wide range of conditions – from depression to anxiety and personality disorders. And the ways to support affected staff can be varied and far-reaching.

Of course, nobody expects you to know how to treat these conditions, but supporting your employees can be beneficial, both to them, your wider team and to your company. According to the Mental Health Foundation, an alarming 70 million work days are lost each year [Mental Health Foundation: Mental Health in the Workplace] due to mental health problems in the UK, which in turn costs employers around £2.4 billion per year.

However, it’s not just about work days lost – employee retention is another key issue. According to research by healthcare provider Benenden Health [Benenden Health: Mental Wellbeing Report 2020] nearly half of UK businesses have seen an employee leave because their mental health isn’t supported.

If you have paid to train a member of staff, who is valued by your clients, losing them can be a real blow to your organisation. So it makes sense to offer support in order to reduce staff turnover and absence.

Your legal obligation

According to the Equality Act (2010) you, as the employer, should make reasonable adjustments for people with mental and physical disabilities, ensuring they have the same access to gaining and keeping employment as a non-disabled person. In this case a mental impairment is defined as having a substantial long-term impact on their daily life.

What can you do to help?

  • Open the conversation: Make sure you send a clear message to let staff know that, should they discuss their mental health with you, you will be understanding and offer help where possible. After all, if someone came in with a broken leg, that is what you would do – and mental health issues are no different. If employees are too afraid to speak up for fear of discrimination, a reduction in hours or responsibilities, they are more likely to take days off or leave. To that end, it is also important to provide the opportunity to talk. When people are busy or perceive that their manager is too busy, they may not want to ‘worry’ them so remain silent.
  • Keep it confidential: Your discussion about someone’s anxiety or other mental health disorder should go no further and you should make it clear that you will treat information in a professional manner. Employees who are worried that their colleagues will gossip about them, treat them differently, or resent any special treatment, are likely to be under more pressure.
  • Show them the signposts: As we said previously, it is not your job to treat an employee who is struggling, but you can aid them by recommending that they seek professional help. Give them any support they need to do this.
  • Listen to them: Don’t assume that one person suffering from depression will need the same support as someone else with depression. Everyone is different. Listen to them and find out how you can cut down on their stress in the workplace at least.
  • Be prepared to make adjustments: They may benefit from a change in their shift or working patterns or responsibilities, while they are getting help. Try to make things easier where you can – such as re-organising their work to cut down on travel time or avoiding busy times, or by arranging for them to have support with their workload, training and/or 1-2-1’s. But let them lead the way on what help they need.

Aim to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
#ConnectWithNature

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, from recruitment through to exit.

Ramadan

During Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours. For those working in more physical roles, such as in the care industry for example, it is particularly important to ensure they are well supported…

Ramadan began on Monday 12 April 2021. During this holy month for those of the Islamic faith, many Muslims commit to fasting during daylight hours. This means they take in no food or drink (including water or chewing gum) from sunrise to sunset, and instead will eat in the early hours and then late in the evening once it is dark. Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the moon cycle.

Cecily asked a good friend to confirm that breaking Fast takes place at the end of the day when the sun sets. He told her how difficult it is, for instance in the UK, when we are in British Summer Time (BST). Sometimes it can be 10 pm before the setting of the sun – a long time to have not a drop of water or a morsel pass your lips!

How can you support employees who are fasting?

Be open to communication and discussion: Your staff may be reluctant to reveal that they are fasting, in case they are treated differently, or are considered unreliable. It is important to be approachable and understanding, so that they are not uncomfortable discussing their needs with their employer, case managers, or family. Most Muslims pray five times a day. You may not know they are doing so, maybe they take time out to be in a quiet place – sometimes needing only 10 minutes to complete their ablutions and prayer. Your staff might be grateful if you discuss their needs with them and show empathy.

Have a policy in place: Like Christmas and Easter, Ramadan is an important part of the year for Muslims, so it is important to have a company policy on matters of religious observance. Make sure that it applies equally to all faiths in order to avoid claims of discrimination.

Be aware of harassment: Colleagues and clients may make derogatory comments if they think other members of staff are getting special treatment or taking breaks when no one else can. Make sure that all staff are aware that action will be taken against anyone making comments or displaying behaviour considered offensive.

Be flexible: Talk to staff who are fasting about how flexible working or a different shift pattern could help them. Some people may suffer from fatigue during the day while they are fasting, so they may prefer to switch to earlier or later working hours. Be aware that if they are eating very early in the morning or late at night, that some shift patterns may make life difficult. Allowing them to start and finish earlier may help them to better manage daytime fasting. Or perhaps you could discuss less heavy duties during this time. It is really important that you discuss this with each individual member of staff, rather than making a blanket policy for all.

Manage holiday requests: Most of us in human resources (HR) in the UK expect to receive more holiday requests over Christmas and the school holidays, but we may not be so prepared for the requests for annual leave that may come from those fasting during Ramadan. Be aware that some of your Muslim staff may want to take leave so that they can rest while they are fasting – or have time off to celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr (which means breaking the fast) around 12-13 May 2021. Allowing all your staff time off for Ramadan or Eid may be difficult, but you should be as accommodating as possible, to avoid any risk of discrimination. Perhaps you can allow them to take some of the requested leave, if not all of it. You also need to consider how the extra work will be distributed, so that other members of the care staff are not under too much pressure.

We’d like to wish our clients, families and their employees good health and well over the Fast.

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, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR Sleeping Nights Payments

A recent ruling by the Supreme Court (Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake) has established that where a worker is paid a flat shift rate (or an allowance) for a sleeping night, when they are awake and working for any period of that shift, they should be paid no less than the national minimum wage for those hours, in addition to the shift flat rate (or allowance). We have set out below a summary for your information.

A support worker who spends any time ‘awake for the purposes of working’ during the course of a sleeping night shift is entitled to be paid for every minute of that time at no less than the NMW rate, in addition to the flat shift rate (or allowance).

This could result in a worker being paid the flat rate (or allowance) plus an hourly rate for the whole shift if he/she was ‘awake for the purposes of working’ for the whole shift.

The Supreme Court clarified that sleeping night allowances are not pay/wages, as such, but are compensation given to support workers for the inconvenience of having to spend nights at their employer’s house rather than in their own home. The Court also made it clear that sleeping night allowances do not count towards the worker’s NMW calculation.

That said, the decision has confirmed that the practice of paying support workers a flat shift rate amount (or allowance) for sleeping night shifts is perfectly lawful and that it does not matter if the amount of the allowance is less than the equivalent of what the worker would be entitled to be paid if he/she was to be remunerated for the whole shift at the NMW rate.

Clients whose current practice is to pay a flat shift rate (or allowance) to their workers for sleeping night shifts but to pay them for the whole night shift on an hourly rate (NMW compliant) basis if they are required to get up and work on more than XX occasions (or for more than YY hours in total) during the course of the shift, now find themselves exposed to the risk of NMW breach complaints or claims.

This is because under this type of arrangement if a worker is called upon to work during the course of a particular sleeping night but the number of occasions he/she is called upon is less than XX (or he/she has to work for less than YY hours in total), there will be a breach of the NMW legislation if he/she is not paid anything (over and above his/her sleeping night allowance) for doing that work. With this type of arrangement there is also a risk of workers bringing complaints of historical NMW breaches (coupled with back claims for under-payment of wages).

Left unchanged, the current practice of paying a flat rate (or allowance) for a sleeping night shift, with the additional cost of paying at least the NMW rate for the hours the support worker spends ‘awake for the purposes of working’, could result in a greater financial burden than simply paying the worker for the whole sleeping night shift at the NMW rate.

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, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR Statutory Pay rate rises

While many things in our world are unusual at present, one thing that never changes is the rate rises that come into effect each April. Read on to ensure you have the correct figures available when paying your April wages and salaries…

Wage and Statutory Pay Increases April 2021

As many of us watching the Spring Budget on 3 March concentrated on whether Chancellor Rishi Sunak would hit us with taxes to pay for the Covid support offered to workers, businesses and the self-employed over the past year, it might have been easy to miss the announcement of the annual rate rises for minimum wage and other statutory payments.

Essential for anyone dealing with payrolls and other human resource issues within the care sector, these need to be applied from various dates in April. The four rate rises are explained below.

First though, a brief explanation on the difference between the National Living Wage (NLW) and the National Minimum Wage: the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum rate of pay per hour which almost all workers are entitled to; whereas the National Living Wage (NLW) is slightly higher and applies to workers if they’re over the age of 23.

National Living Wage (NLW)

One point to make note of is that the age threshold has been reduced for the National Living Wage, so it now applies to those aged 23 and over, while the main adult rate is for those aged 22 and 23.

  • The National Living Wage rises to £8.91 on April 1 (a rise of 2.2% from £8.72).
  • For workers aged 21 and 22 the new rate is £8.36.
  • For those aged 18 to 20 the new rate is £6.56.
  • Under-18s can look forward to a new hourly rate of £4.62, while apprentices will receive £4.30.
Age 2020 rate 2021 rate Percentage increase
20-21 £8.20 £8.36 2%
18-20 £6.45 £6.56 1.7%
16-17 £4.55 £4.62 1.5%
Apprentice £4.15 £4.30 3.6%

Statutory Redundancy Pay Cap

A weekly pay cap is applied to Statutory Redundancy Pay, and any changes come into effect on 6 April 2021.

The cap is calculated in line with any changes that have occurred to the RPI (Retail Prices Index). So, if the RPI in the preceding September is higher, then the statutory weekly redundancy amount is increased by the same percentage.

At present the cap is set at £538, with the new maximum predicted to be £544.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

The flat SMP rate changes on the first Sunday in April. This year, the rate should rise to £151.97 (from £151.20) on 4 April 2021.

This rate is also the same for Statutory Adoption, Shared Parental and Paternity Pay.

Your employees should be paid 90% of their average weekly earnings for the first six weeks of their maternity leave. For the next 33 weeks, they should receive whichever is the lower – SMP or 90% of their average weekly earnings.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

The rate for SSP will change on 6 April 2021 and should rise to £96.35 (from £95.85).

Employees are entitled to SSP if they are off sick for four or more days in a row and can claim SSP for up to 28 weeks.

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, from recruitment through to exit.

Working Parents

Support for key worker parents should be a priority for employers in the care industry…

If you don’t look after your staff how can they look after anyone else?

As lockdown 3.0 continues, working parents are once again doing their best to work without being able to fall back on their regular childcare or traditional schooling.

For parents in the care industry, life can be even harder – they can’t work at home, childcare options are more limited because of Covid restrictions, and schools have become strict on allowing key worker children to attend during the school day – often insisting that both parents must be key workers for children to be eligible for a space.

Being a working parent in normal times is often a juggling act but throwing in the restrictions of Covid-19 and lockdown and times can be especially tough, particularly in an industry where many staff are not high earners.

For example, a study by Working Families in October 2020 [Working Families: One in five working parents has faced unfair treatment at work since COVID-19 onset 16/10/2020], also found that 2.6 million (one fifth of) working parents in the UK thought they had been treated less fairly at work because of their childcare responsibilities during the pandemic. Women had been particularly affected, with more mothers than fathers leaving paid work since last February [Institute for Fiscal Studies: Parents, especially mothers, paying heavy price for lockdown 27/05/2020].

So how can you support the parents in your employ?

First of all, making it clear that you realise what a tough time they are having, and ensuring that they know their employer  is supportive is one very easy and simple thing to do. A supportive message will help them feel that they have not been abandoned to struggle on through, and that case managers, deputies and parents actually recognise that they may be finding things difficult.

This in turn will help to encourage your staff to be honest about issues they are having rather than trying to hide problems, or even leaving work because it is too hard to manage childcare and employment.

From this, line managers can have honest conversations with the team about what solutions might work for them. They can discuss possibilities such as flexible working, changing roles or spreading hours throughout the week.

Your staff may benefit from more flexible rotas or more swaps between rotas than normal. Parents will have different requirements depending on their children’s ages, whether they have a partner working at home or if their children have additional needs. There are many reasons for a change in working pattern which is why open and honest conversation is necessary.

Line managers should also catch up with working parents on a regular basis, as circumstances may change, and if school closures should extend past 8 March, they may find it harder and harder to cope.

Proactive next steps

For those where none of these options work – what are the next steps? Could your employees be furloughed, take some holiday, unpaid leave or parental leave?

For many working in the care industry at this crucial time, taking unpaid leave is not particularly a viable option, either because of work requirements, or financially. However, eligible parents are permitted parental leave of up to four weeks in a year for each child (including adopted children). You should also offer support to anyone returning from maternity or parental leave, as the place of work they come back to might be quite different from the one they left. Ensure they are made aware of any changes in working practices such as staffing and change of rules.

Of course, uppermost must always be the concern that you are not being discriminatory. Check out the latest advice from the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) regarding Covid, employment and discrimination – especially concerning women, marital status and pregnancy.

You may be able to introduce some other ‘perks’ that will take the pressure off your staff. One housing trust, for instance, has offered parents one paid afternoon off a week. This could give them breathing space to help a child catch up with some homeschooling, do some fun activity with their children, or simply take a much-needed break.

While your working parents are looking after their families and your clients within the care industry, it is important that they are also looking after themselves. If you have a health and wellbeing programme, mental health first aid programme or similar scheme, make sure that your staff are aware of them and have easy access. If you do not have these programmes in place, there are many organisations with good advice that you can point your staff towards, such as MIND.

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, from recruitment through to exit.