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.

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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.


In the workplace, it is inevitable that conflicts will sometimes arise.

Whether minor disagreements between colleagues over some trivial matter, or something more serious involving disciplinary action, dealing with discord is something employers will be well used to.

But in my experience, at the root of some of the bigger problems are seemingly small matters, which have escalated to the point where it becomes a challenge within an organisation.

Matters like time keeping, extended breaks, some aspects of behaviour – while appearing minor at first, over time they can manifest and impact on the wider team, sometimes seriously. And if it is a frontline care role, for example, there are also potentially implications for the client.

From initially seeming quite inconsequential, it can become the case that it leads to the termination of the employee’s contract – quite a serious consequence for something that once seemed like a minor annoyance.

So for that reason, I would urge employers to deal with the small stuff – address the more minor issues which impact on the running of the business and happiness of the wider team at the earliest possible stage, to avoid it becoming something that can hopefully be avoided.

Addressing minor issues can be difficult. If not handled carefully, this can inflame the situation – so keeping things cordial but professional is important.

This five-step process can be useful in addressing issues with employees:

  • Highlight the problem and why you are discussing it – be clear on why a certain aspect of behaviour is being addressed, and reaffirm to the employee what your expectations of them are
  • Give the employee a voice and listen to their reasoning – they may have valid reasons or personal issues which may be relevant
  • Work through the differences – use this as a chance to ‘clear the air’ and ensure both sides have their say
  • Identify solutions – find a way to resolve the issue while keeping dispute to a minimum, although be sure to take a firm line on what is expected from the employee
  • Keep channels of communication open – let them know your door is open if they need support with anything.

In my experience, handling things early and in an informal way initially, if circumstances permit, can be a valuable opportunity for resolution.

Keep in mind the efforts you went through to recruit the person, the time and resource you have invested in their training. If the issues are minor, then it is usually worth trying to find a way through.

For example – poor time keeping or attendance by an employee, a classic problem which can, over time, impact on productivity and engagement of a whole team.

By holding a face-to-face meeting at the earliest opportunity, as soon as this has presented as a problem, you can get to the root of the issue. Are they unreliable and don’t care? Or are they experiencing some underlying issues, and could benefit with some support, or time off to deal with these?

By getting to the heart of the matter through discussion, you can support your employee and make changes that will benefit their wider team and the business in general.

The consequences of not tackling the small stuff when you have the opportunity can end in disciplinary action, grievances and even dismissal – all of which are very time-consuming and costly, and can be very regrettable all round.

However, sometimes, despite your best efforts, the employee may not respond to your attempts to find a way forward, and further action may need to be taken.

Remember the four stages of disciplinary action:

  • Verbal warning
  • Written warning
  • Final written warning
  • Dismissal

Ideally, the initial, almost ‘pre-disciplinary’ stage, will help you resolve a minor issue to the satisfaction of everyone, and certainly to the benefit of the organisation and its clients – but if further action is needed, at least you have done your best to try and avoid an escalation.

For help in dealing with any employment matters, contact Embrace HR for support on 01296 761 288 or email admin@embracehr.co.uk

carer assisting man holding hand strengthening ball

The workforce crisis in social care is putting huge pressure on the delivery of life-changing provision nationally – but through employers taking a positive approach to recruitment and retention, the foundations of change can be laid.

Cecily Lalloo, MD of Embrace HR, independent HR specialists in private care sector support, discusses some steps organisations can take to address this


The challenges facing social care and its workforce are well-documented, but sadly they continue to grow.

We are now at a stage where, in a sector which employs around 1.4million people, we are seeing a staff turnover rate of around 30 per cent.

Currently, there are at least 150,000 vacancies. That is very troubling, and cannot ensure the quality or indeed quantity of care that so many people depend on across the country for the long-term.

Yet against the backdrop of this workforce crisis, we do see many examples of very good practice by care operators, who are supporting their staff in their development and are investing in their wellbeing in what is a role very prone to burnout.

As the sponsor of the Care Provider of the Year category of the NR Times Awards, I was privileged to judge entries from care operators nationally – and I was greatly encouraged by the many examples of employers delivering the support their workers need and deserve.

To see organisations taking a stand against the recruitment crisis, and helping to deliver solutions, is excellent.

But for so many others, this appears a monumental task, and one where they are struggling to deliver the service clients need amidst the pressure on their resources.

While by no means definitive measures, there are a number of areas employers can consider as they look at their staff recruitment, and particularly retention, in ensuring they are building careers for people for the long-term, and making working in social care a role they want to remain in.

Here are some points for employers to consider:

Create a positive recruitment process

Bringing new people into your organisation, whether large or small, is a huge step to take, so decide what matters to you.

Most likely their values and behaviours are very important, and must align with those you have as an organisation or even as a family for those who employ in their homes.

Offer the opportunity to learn more about the role, perhaps by offering taster sessions or assessment days. Show that care presents an opportunity to develop social skills and positive interaction with clients and families, while benefitting from good working conditions.

Show the ethos of your operation from their first interaction with you, with visible leadership and structures in place for them to see the support that will be in place, alongside a path of development should they choose to pursue it.

Communicate with applicants throughout the recruitment process, to build a positive relationship from the earliest stages and give information on timeframes and what they can expect.

This will help to build a good impression of you as an employer and that each employee matters.

Understand your workforce

By getting to know your team and their needs, you are helping to foster a positive workplace culture, geared around those on the frontline whose roles are often very challenging.

Encourage honest and open dialogue to get to the root of what staff want or need, as individuals and as teams. By developing this trust with workers, and offering opportunities to develop skills and interests, this can help to build loyalty.

By getting to know individual employees and demonstrating they are important to you, this can help identify when they are feeling unsettled or unhappy.

Consider holding feedback sessions or opportunities where staff can share their thoughts – it is important these are listened to and given due consideration.

Of course people do leave and move on, but it can greatly help future recruitment and retention efforts if you can understand why that is.

A leaver survey or exit interview can be important and can help to inform future approaches.

Make wellbeing a priority

A career in social care, while undoubtedly rewarding, can come with huge demands and challenges for an individual.

Burnout is very common and support can be all too often absent.

By creating a culture of wellbeing within your organisation, this can help prevent sickness absence and improve retention rates significantly.

The mental and physical health of staff being tasked with delivering often life-changing care is paramount to them being able to do these vital roles effectively.

Developing policies covering stress, burnout, workload and sickness – which are the shared responsibility of HR, senior leaders and line managers – can be transformational for an organisation.

It is very important that leaders in an organisation are visible, and there are clear lines of communication for an employee if they face challenges.

By making time and space for them to talk and share what they face – whether personal or professional problems – this can benefit their wellbeing enormously.

By showing concern for your staff and the inevitably long hours they are facing, this will also help to demonstrate positive practices.

Encourage employees to use benefits and entitlements like annual leave for rest and recuperation, and help guard against potential issues before they arise.

Offer careers rather than jobs

Often, care is not regarded as a professional role, and as a job rather than a career.

But this is entirely wrong, and care can be a very fulfilling, long-term career – indeed it is for many people across the country.

Perceptions, however, are frequently rather more negative.

By investing in staff training and development, this can help to lay the foundations for longevity.

By giving the opportunity for employees to gain qualifications and accreditations, embarking on training to continually upskill them in the delivery of their role, this will create an ongoing desire to learn.

Often, funding can be available for such opportunities. Development of clear career pathways are also vital to this.

By demonstrating a route for progression and the setting of goals, employees will feel part of the organisation and invested in its future.

While progression may look different for each person, the offer of flexible learning and development opportunities means they can get involved whatever their circumstances.

Offering staff the opportunity to develop into other roles will assist retention – perhaps they are a care worker and may be interested in a team leader role or a role within a therapy team.

Developing staff will also help to establish a long- term plan for individual people and teams, giving more certainty to your future planning and provision.

Recognise and reward

Showing staff they are appreciated is crucial in retention.

Care can be a difficult sector to work in, without question; but celebrating and recognising the achievement of those working within it can make a huge difference.

Whether that takes the form of verbal or written praise, awards, bonus or financial or gift incentives, will depend on the organisation – but to have channels of appreciation in place is very important, for those working throughout the business.

Sharing stories of excellent work or outstanding commitment with the wider world can also be important.

Whether that is on social media or your own website, or through an external forum such as NR Times, publicly showing appreciation can be very important for the individuals involved, but can also reflect well on you as an organisation.

Remember to ensure that people are comfortable with their stories or photos being shared.

While the problems in recruitment and retention will not be solved overnight, and there is a long road ahead, by making positive steps to make workers feel valued in careers where they can develop and progress, we can make change that will benefit the sector today and into the years ahead.

To discuss recruitment and retention policies and approaches in greater detail, contact the team at Embrace HR via www.embracehr.co.uk

Embrace returning to work after lockdown

The use of fixed-term contracts can give clarity and certainty to employers and employees alike – but for employers, they must ensure they are meeting their legal requirements towards those working for fixed-term periods.

Cecily Lalloo, managing director of Embrace HR, independent HR specialists in private care sector support, discusses the key points of which employers must be aware.

Fixed-term contracts can be a useful way for employers to cover positions for a defined period of time, giving assurance that there is enough resource for particularly busy periods or certain projects, while also affording flexibility.

For employees too, being contracted to work for a fixed period can give clarity around the nature and duration of their role, and what is expected of them during that time.

In such a fast-changing sector as healthcare, where resources may suddenly be particularly under pressure, the option of a fixed-term contract can be an effective tool to bring in people for a defined period.

For example, to cover an absence on maternity leave or a long-term sickness absence.

There are four main types of fixed-term contract:

*Pure fixed-term contracts – these expire automatically, at the end of the term, without the need for notice.

These are quite inflexible as there is no option to terminate the contract early

*Contracts with a notice clause providing for early termination – if notice is not given, the contract will expire automatically at the end of the term

* Contracts stated to be for an initial term, during which notice may not be served – the contract terminates on notice after the initial fixed term has expired

* Evergreen contracts – these renew automatically for another fixed term, unless one of the parties gives notice of termination.

Fixed-term employees are protected by legislation through the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.

This states that employees on fixed-term contracts are treated no less favourably than permanent employees – so in terms of aspects like pensions or defined benefits, they are comparable.

During their period of employment, employers should review the contractual terms and benefits offered to fixed-term employees and look for any differences from those offered to permanent staff.

Longevity also counts in an employee’s favour, particularly at the point at which a contract expires, which is regarded as a dismissal. Throughout their period of employment, they are entitled to be informed of any permanent roles.

Fixed-term workers will have unfair dismissal rights after being employed for two years, and for those who have been continuously employed for four years or more on a series of successive fixed-term contracts, they will legally – and unless there is justification for the use of consecutive temporary contracts – be treated as a permanent employee.

But in the case of unfair dismissal, fixed-term employees are awarded greater protection, and there are circumstances in which they will be deemed to have been automatically unfairly dismissed.

There is no requirement to have two years of service to bring this claim.

For a dismissal to be fair, it must be for one of the potentially fair reasons set out in legislation, which are:

  • Capability
  • Conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Contravention of a statutory obligation
  • Some other substantial reason.

In this situation, employers will need to establish which reason they seek to rely on, and follow a fair procedure.

Each case will be based on the circumstances at the time.

The use of fixed-term contracts can be beneficial for both sides – but employers must ensure they are adhering to the legal rights afforded to fixed-term employees, and the fact these may increase after two and four years.

For advice or guidance in this area, please contact Embrace HR via www.embracehr.co.uk

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.
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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.