Embrace HR Aylesbury key worker pexels-anna-shvets-3683098

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Good evening. We’re sharing our updates for anyone who might visit our website. The scene is changing constantly and we urge you to listen to the broadcasts and update yourself on the gov.uk website, or other official paths such as HSE.

In this Update we will cover some of the FAQ’s that we have been receiving.

What is the difference between sick leave and self-isolation?

In the current situation sickness absence will cover employees:

  • Who test positive for the virus
  • Who show symptoms of the virus
  • Who self-isolate because they have been told to do so by the NHS.

Self-isolation means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people. Employees who self-isolate because of one of the above sickness absence reasons will qualify for SSP.  Employees who choose to self-isolate without any of the above, should follow the normal absence procedures and will be entitled to unpaid or annual leave.

Employers have a duty of care to protect all staff and in some cases it may be necessary to suspend an employee on medical grounds, for example pregnant employees, to ensure their safety. Employees who are suspended for this reason will be entitled to full pay.

Self-employed people who have to self-isolate do not qualify for SSP, however, they may be able to claim employment support allowance if they meet the conditions.

Employee’s should check their symptoms using the NHS 111 service, not their GP. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

Employers should continue to carry out Return to Work Interviews with employees after a period of sickness absence to make sure they are fit to return to work and find out if there is any support the employer can provide. Please contact Embrace HR, if you would like more information about this.

Can an employee continue working if they are a carer / support worker and the individual being cared for has symptoms of Coronavirus?

Transmission should be minimised through safe working practices such as wearing personal protective equipment, cleaning and disposing of waste regularly, not shaking dirty clothes. A risk assessment should be carried out to ascertain if the employee’s family may be at risk, for example if they have children or the elderly living with them. Each case should be considered separately.

Can an employee continue working if they are a carer / support worker and the individual being cared for is part of a household that is isolating?

If the individual can remain at a safe distance from the person in the house with symptoms, then care can be provided without additional precautions. One example being are there separate bathroom facilities?

For more guidance on the government website for those working in people’s homes, please click on this  link:

Which roles are classified as Key Workers?

The government has specified who Key Workers are. There are many Key Workers, a large majority in the NHS, but also individual carers and support workers are Key Workers such as police, doctors, paramedics, teachers, social workers, case managers, transport workers,

and so many others. For more guidance on Key Workers please access the government website by clicking on this link.

What is the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme?

The Job Retention Scheme involves organisations designating employees as ‘furlough workers’, which is a way to keep employees on payroll without them working, and without them being laid off or made redundant. The government will pay up to 80% of furloughed employee’s wages to a max of £2500 per employee per month.

Furloughed workers

If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.

To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

We intend for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.”  Excerpt from gov.uk

The scheme is available to all organisations with no restriction on size or type. However, it is only intended to cover organisations who cannot cover staff costs due to COVID 19. It is not known what an organisation will need to show in order to qualify. Employers will need to submit their information to the government via an online portal. More information will follow regarding this.

Organisations will be able to claim for any employee on the PAYE system.

It is likely that contracts which contain the right to lay-off employees on unpaid leave can also be used to designate furlough workers. If contracts do not contain a right to unpaid lay-off, organisations can ask the employee to agree to become a furlough worker.

The finer details of this scheme are not yet known and we shall update further when we know more.

What do I need to consider if my employees are working from home?

The CIPD (2020) have identified the following top ten tips for employers regarding homeworking:

  1. Review your homeworking policy. Make sure it addresses how employees will be supervised, how the organisation and line managers will communicate with them and how performance and output will be monitored.
  2. Confirm employee rights.Homeworkers must be treated the same as office-based staff, with equal access to development and promotion opportunities.
  3. Confirm contact methods and regularity. Advise homeworkers to establish when and how they will have contact with their manager; reporting in at regular times can also help combat isolation and stress.
  4. Providing equipment.There is no obligation for employers to provide computer or other equipment necessary for working at home, although, given the latest Government advice, employers should do what they can to enable home working.
  5. IT and Broadband.Employers should confirm in the contractual arrangements if the employee is expected to cover the broadband cost (plus heating and lighting) or if the employer will contribute towards these costs and, if so, to what extent.
  6. Think about health and safety obligations. Employers are responsible for an employee’s health, safety and welfare, even when working from home.
  7. Carry out risk assessment.Employers should usually conduct risk assessments of all the work activities carried out by employees those working from home.
  8. Review working time and length of period.Will employees need to be available for work during strict office hours or work a specified a set number of hours per day?
  9. Clarify salary, benefits, insurance, tax.Salary and benefits should obviously remain the same during a period of homeworking, although changes to expenses may be appropriate if normal travel expenses and allowances are no longer needed.
  10. Data protection.Employers should make sure data protection obligations are maintained and employees using their own computer should still process information in compliance with data protection principles.

How can we help? Contact us by clicking on this link

For more information and guidance on any of the issues mentioned, please contact Embrace HR through our contact form here.


Embrace HR Team

23 March 2020

If you would like to discuss this or any HR subject further  please contact our Team at Embrace HR Limited.

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

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports SMEs and care packages 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 London.

Embrace HR Aylesbury work stress


How can we help?

Stop Press: We’ve listened to the Prime Minister and Chancellor’s speech this afternoon on the Coronavirus UK latest. Significant measures are being put in place for businesses to provide economic support so that many employers may consider keeping on employees. We will update ourselves on the offers but we understand that HMRC will be the place to go. We will keep you up to date as far as we are able.

The Press are asking questions and the PM, Chancellor and others are responding.

Tonight businesses such as cafes, restaurants, gyms, will have to close. Take-aways will still operate. Many of the staff working in these businesses are on zero hours contracts. This means that they do not have contractual hours or pay. The Chancellor says that they are part of the plan to cover their pay through grants to cover up to 80% of pay up to £2,500 per month.

If you missed it, here is the PM and Chancellor’s live conference with summary.



There is so much information out there that it’s difficult to know what to do for the best.

We’re offering a FREE 30 minute consultation to discuss with us your people concerns

  • Lay off and short-term working
  • Working from home
  • Looking after family
  • Keeping well

Here is some brief information to consider. Always talk to your employees as they may suggest something different.

What you need to do if you place employees on short time working

  • Check the contract – is there an allowance for short time working
  • Agree with your member of staff that they will accept shorter working hours, the options may be a that there is a lay off or redundancy situation
  • Agree the reduction in pay
  • Ensure you have agreement in writing
  • This is where you can check further information on gov.uk or the CIPD fact sheet
  • If you need further help contact us

What you need to do if you lay off your employees

  • Check the contract – is there an allowance for lay off
  • Consult and agree with your staff that you will lay them off
  • Agree the period of lay off with a caveat that it may be increased
  • Ensure you confirm in writing
  • This is where you can check further information on gov.uk or the CIPD fact sheet
  • Your employees may be eligible for statutory guaranteed pay
  • Your employees may claim redundancy if unpaid for 4 continuous weeks
  • If you need further help contact us

What you need to do if you believe there may be a redundancy situation

  • Consult with your employees, they may discuss other options such as short-time working or layoffs
  • Follow the redundancy process consider whether you will pay in lieu of notice or whether your employees will work their notice
  • Calculate redundancy payments, pay in lieu of notice (PILON), holidays that have not been taken that you will need to pay in lieu
  • If the decision is still to make redundancies ensure that you follow procedural guidelines, information on gov.uk or on the ACAS website
  • Ensure written confirmation of end of contract due to redundancy
  • If you need further help contact us

We are all in this together. If we can help, we will. Embrace HR are working throughout this time.

You may find this information on the BBF (Buckinghamshire Business First) very helpful.

Take care. Keep well.

 Embrace HR Limited is an HR Department based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, working with SME’s and other small employers in the Home Counties and London. 

Our clients have teams up to 35 employees and we provide whatever HR support is needed, from recruitment to transactional HR, TUPE, redundancy, and other employee relations processes, contracts and handbooks, policies and much more.

Contact us if you would like more information.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Coronavirus for Employers

Has your business been affected by the Coronavirus, now known as COVID-19? Do you know what to do if an employee is diagnosed, what your responsibilities are for other staff, or are you just not sure what you should be doing and when? Our easy guide will give you some answers…

Coronavirus causes flu-like symptoms and can lead to serious illness and even death. The disease first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, and since then has spread around the world.

So far, the number of cases in the UK has proved relatively low (273 out of more than 23,000 people tested), at the time of writing, with two reported deaths. You can keep updated on the ever changing situation here and here.

Companies need to ensure that they know what to do and when, as the virus spreads. According to the government, it is possible that up to 20 per cent of your employees could be absent from work as the spread reaches its peak. For SMEs in particular, this could mean that significant members (and numbers) of your team are not in the workplace. The Government has shared guidance for employers and businesses on their website.

Best practice for employers

Here’s our checklist for your organisation, which is simple and easy to employ:

  • Communicate with your staff so that they know what actions have been put in place in the workplace to keep everyone safe and healthy and your expectations of them.
  • Ensure there are plenty of places to wash hands, with hot water and soap. Remind staff to wash their hands regularly; the BBC have reported one company using an egg timer! Provide hand sanitiser and tissues and encourage the use of both.
  • Educate managers on the symptoms to look out for. Make it clear that anyone with Coronavirus symptoms (cough, fever, breathing difficulties, chest pain) should not come into work until they have contacted 111 (either by phone or online) and received advice.
  • Do you have staff travelling abroad? Consider whether travel is absolutely necessary at this time.
  • Do you regularly plan team meetings or sales conferences? Again, consider whether, in the short term, these could be held by conference phone or video link.

Reducing the risk

The World Health Organisation lists these ways to reduce the risk of infection. We suggest you and your staff follow these not only in the workplace but at home and in public spaces too:

  • Wash hands regularly with soap or use alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue or, worst case, into your elbow. Dispose of tissues into a closed bin.
  • Avoid contact with anyone with cold-like symptoms.
  • Ensure you practise food safety – using different boards for raw and cooked meat, and washing hands between handling.

The virus at work

The question uppermost for most companies is surely ‘What do we do if we have an unwell member of staff at work – and will we have to shut down the workplace if they are diagnosed with Coronavirus?

Current advice states that if the person is unwell and has come back from an area affected by the virus, they should keep 2m away from others, be separated in a room with a closed door, such as a sick bay or office, use a separate toilet and use tissues for coughs and sneezes and dispose of the tissues. They must call NHS 111 on their own mobile device to get advice or contact NHS online at: 111.nhs.uk, or 999 if they are seriously ill.

Should you have an infected employee in your office, you may not necessarily have to close down your workplace. After the individual has contacted NHS 111, you will be contacted by the local Public Health England (PHE) health protection team who will give further advice on assessment of the risk. You can refer to PHE’s advice and information online via their website.

Paying the price

What are the rules around sick pay if you have employees who have contracted the Coronavirus or who have to self-isolate?

The government has stated that anyone who has to self-isolate on the advice of NHS 111, or a doctor, (and not just those with confirmation of the virus) will receive statutory sick pay, or contractual sick pay if it is offered within your company, from day one.

Normally, you would require a fit note (formerly a sick note) after seven days of illness, but if the staff member is self-isolating this will not be possible, so as a company you will have to be flexible about this.

If you ask an employee not to come into work (because they have been to a high-risk area, for example), then they should be paid as usual. Currently, all travellers returning from China, northern Italy and South Korea, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, should self-isolate if they have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even mild symptoms).

If you have staff returning from ‘lock-down’ areas – currently listed as: Northern Italy, Hubei province in China, Iran, and special care zones in South Korea, they should self-isolate regardless of whether they are showing symptoms or not.

You also need to consider your policy if an employee needs to take time off to look after a sick dependant or a child who is at home because their school has closed because of the Coronavirus. Ensure you know what your workplace policy is with regards to paid time off, family leave, or allowing staff to take any extra days as holiday.

What does ‘self-isolate’ mean?

You can direct a member of your staff who needs to self-isolate to the NHS website, which confirms the dos and don’ts during the 14-day period, including for those in shared accommodation.

What should I do in self-isolation?

Self-isolation means staying at home for 14 days, not going to work, school or other public places, and avoiding public transport or taxis, says Public Health England.

Common-sense steps include staying in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened. keeping away from other people in your home, and asking for help if you need groceries, other shopping or medication. It’s ok to have friends, family or delivery drivers drop off supplies to get you through the two weeks, but you shouldn’t have any visitors, PHE says. You can also have deliveries left on the doorstep.

Working from home

This is also a good time to look at your policy about working from home. You may have staff who do not want to come into work for a variety of reasons. They may be concerned about being in areas with high numbers of people – on the commute for instance. Try to be flexible if possible. Could you, for instance, allow them to come in earlier or later to avoid the rush hour?

As a good employer you should listen to their concerns. Make sure they know what has been put in place at work to ensure health and safety, but you must consider the wider health issues that could put your employee at a higher risk than normal. Those at particular risk may have suppressed immune systems, be pregnant, have respiratory issues, be older, or be living with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. You may have to move them from high-risk sites (where they have contact with members of the public) or enable them to work remotely. Remember that employers have special responsibilities for pregnant or disabled staff.

There is no need to panic, but it is also wise to plan for a worst-case scenario, where staff members are unable to come into the office. For instance, make sure that office-based staff are able to use work chats, conference calls and can gain access to work servers (for files and emails) while working from home.

Need more advice?

If you need more advice than we have provided here, employers have access to a free ACAS helpline and to find more information for employers on the website, visit www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus.

Stop Press

The chancellor of the exchequer has announced £7 billion of extraordinary measures to help support businesses and individuals who will be affected by the covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in his first Budget. Click here to learn more.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and find out how we could help you comply with regulations, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

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

Embrace HR Aylesbury legislation

As April draws closer, we are preparing for several changes that will come into effect during the 1st week of the month…

Employment Law Actions

Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment

There are several changes taking place to the Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment which is given to new employees or workers to form their contract with their employer. In addition to the existing criteria the statement will also need to contain information on the following:

  • Details regarding the days of the weeks the person will be working and whether or not these will be variable
  • Details of any paid leave in addition to annual leave and sick leave
  • Details of any other benefits not included elsewhere in the statement
  • Details of any probationary period and the conditions associated with it
  • Details of any training entitlement which will be provided by the employer
  • Details of any part of that entitlement which will be compulsory
  • Particulars of any other compulsory training which the employer will not pay for

In addition, employees will have the right to receive their Statement of Terms and Conditions on the first day of employment; previously this entitlement was within two months of their start date.

Lastly casual workers (also known by some as bank workers) will now be entitled to receive a Statement of Terms of Conditions.

Calculating Holiday Pay

At the moment the average holiday pay for atypical contracts (variable hours and variable pay), is based on a 12-week reference period which includes overtime and variable hours. This is going to be extended to a 52-week reference period which means the average holiday pay for a employees and workers will be based on the number of hours worked over a rolling year.

Break in Continuous Service

The amount of continuous employment an employee has accrued is important for working out their employee rights, for example the right to claim unfair dismissal after two years’ service. Previously if an employee left their employer and didn’t return until after one week, they would be deemed to have had a break in their continuous service. However, the qualifying period for a break in service is going to be extended from 1 week to 4 weeks. This means that if employees do not have a break of 4 weeks, their continuous service will count from the start of their previous contract. This will make it easier for temporary workers to have continuous employment and mean that they are more likely to qualify for various employee rights. This will particularly impact staff moving from bank (casual) to permanent positions or vice versa.

Parental Bereavement Leave

Parents and primary carers will be entitled to two weeks’ leave following the death of their child under the age of 18; or a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees with 26 weeks’ service or more will be entitled to two weeks statutory pay and other staff will be entitled to unpaid leave.

VE Day 2020

The early May bank holiday has been moved from Monday 4th May 2020 to Friday 8th May 2020 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.

Statutory Pay Rates

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) will increase from 1st April 2020:

National Minimum Wage


2019 2020
Employees over 25 years £8.21 £8.72
Employees aged 21-24 years £7.70 £8.20
Employees aged 18-20 years £6.15 £6.45
Employees aged under 18 years £4.35 £4.55
Apprentices £3.90 £4.15

Other Statutory Pay Increases:

  • Maternity, Adoption, Paternity, Shared Parental Leave pay is increasing to £151.20 on 5th April 2020.
  • Statutory Sick Pay is increasing to £95.85 on 6th April 2020.


Embrace HR can offer specific advice to businesses in relation to how their employees will be affected by Brexit. Please contact us for more information.

Current Coronavirus news

Embrace HR can offer specific advice to businesses in relation to managing employees affected by Coronavirus. Please contact us for more information.

This link takes you to the ACAS website that sets out general advice to employers: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

Our Services

Embrace HR offers a range of services to help you manage and support the people working with you. We will not only ensure that you are legally compliant but also ensure that you have the best processes in place for the motivation and performance of the people working for you. Some of the services we provide are: recruitment, onboarding, disciplinary and grievance, family leave, performance management, engagement, management development. We work with BreatheHR to provide Cloud based HR Software.

If you would like to discuss these matters further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

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

Embrace How to retain staff

Considering most of us spend more time in our workplace than anywhere else, including home, it’s no surprise that workplace culture is so important…

This statement is validated by a recent survey by Speakap [Speakap Research Study – The Culture Factor: Improving Employee Loyalty and Relationships] which revealed that 42% of those questioned would rather work a 60-hour week than work for an organisation that doesn’t value its culture.

So what is so important about workplace culture? Well, top of the list for the UK respondents was respect and fairness, followed by trust and integrity and teamwork.

If your organisation is ‘stuck in its ways’ don’t expect to keep your staff for long – this is how a third of those questioned described their employers – and they thought there was no hope of their employers considering how to improve the culture in the workplace.

It’s vital to get the balance right – many companies think that offering free lunch and the odd outing is enough to keep staff morale up, but at the end of the day, if your staff are unhappy, feel their voices aren’t heard, and their opinions are not valued, no amount of free grub is going to fix that.

Conduct a review

So is it time you took a review of your workplace culture? Look at the things that staff value – open and honest communication between them and senior staff, opportunities for upskilling and training, and ensuring that the workplace is a fair place to work and progress.

One of those most attractive phrases when trying to attract the right staff is flexible work hours. According to a study by Fractl [Harvard Business Review: The Most Desirable Employee Benefits 15/02/2017], flexible hours could influence 88% of respondents to choose a job with a lower salary than your competitors.

With two salaries needed to pay the mortgage these days, more and more of your staff are trying to juggle a work life and a family life. According to FlexJobs [Flexjobs: Survey: Parents Rank Work Flexibility Ahead of Salary 12/08/2016], around 80% of parents listed flexibility and work-life balance as the most important factors when looking for a new job.

Options such as more maternity/paternity leave and work from home possibilities for emergencies such as a burst pipe, or help for those trying to help elderly relatives as well, will mean you not only attract, but also retain your experienced staff – the staff you may have spent both time and money training to do their jobs well.

For more on flexible working see our blog Is Flexible Working Your Friend?

If you fancy being even more flexible, you could emulate media streaming giant Netflix. The industry leader offers unlimited vacation time. Rather than keeping track of time off, the organisation trusts that its employees will use their judgement wisely to take time off when they need to, and gauges this by staff being productive at work and meeting their performance objectives.

Nurture your people

Nurturing your talent is also vital. If you have made the effort to attract top talent, you are going to have to work hard to keep them. Look at what career pathways are open to them, offer opportunities to experience different parts of the company where possible. After all, if you expect them to eventually manage at a high level, they need to know how all areas of the organisation work.

You should also ensure you help to challenge them and broaden their experience.

You might like to read an earlier blog on the subject here including five ways to assess your workplace culture.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

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

Embrace World Mental Health Day

Make a date for World Mental Health day on 10 October to review how your organisation treats and offers support for mental health issues in the workplace.

World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness of mental health and advocate against the social stigma associated with it.

It’s important for HR professionals and anyone who manages others at work to be aware of the issues surrounding mental health, so this is a good time for us to address the subject.

The cost to business

In 2018, the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) discovered that poor mental health was the most common cause of long-term sickness absence in UK workplaces. It also learned that stress-related absence had risen in more than a third of organisations. Read more about dealing with stress in the workplace in our previous blog.

Mental Health charity Mind, meanwhile, found that one in 10 employees rated their current mental health as poor or very poor.

From a business point of view, mental health issues are expensive. Thriving at Work: the Stevenson-Farmer review of mental health and employers found that the ‘economic costs to employers, directly to Government and to the economy as a whole are also far greater than we had anticipated’. Analysis concluded that mental health illness can cost businesses between £1,205 and £1,560 per year per employee – a cost to UK business of between £33 billion and £42 billion a year due to absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover.

Culture change

Mental health is far-reaching, it covers issues such as anxiety, depression, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), panic attacks, phobias, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and more.

The problem with mental health is that people can be reluctant to talk about it – particularly if they feel it will expose a weakness. They are worried that it could lead to them losing their job, being demoted, or passed over for promotion. Unlike a broken leg, others are not always so understanding about mental health issues. But you can help to change that culture within your own organisation.

Your responsibilities

Employers have duties under health and safety legislation to assess the risk of stress-related poor mental health that could arise from work situation and to take measures to control that risk. See the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Management Standards [HSE: What are the management standards?] for more details.

The Equality Act also covers mental health issues under disability – even if the person concerned doesn’t consider that they have a disability, it is good practice to put things in place to accommodate them.

However, the law doesn’t always offer the best protection – the Equality Act states that a disability must be long term – 12 months. This may not be the case for some mental health issues, but it doesn’t mean they have any less of an impact on the employee.

Apart from the human cost of not dealing with mental health issues in the appropriate way, an organisation could find itself lumped with a hefty fine. For instance, it cost an NHS Trust £100,000 when they threatened a suicidal member of staff with legal action [Mail Online: Ex-NHS worker wins £100,000 payout after former bosses threatened legal action when he wrote to say he felt suicidal following his unfair dismissal 12/09/2019].

So for many reasons, HR professionals should be tackling this subject in the right way.

How can you help?

There are a number of ways you can support your people:

  • Work with line managers to develop their people management toolbox.
  • Train managers and employers to be aware of early signs of mental health issues. Make sure they know how to respond and where to go for help. The Mind website is a useful place to start.
  • Mental health first aiders – get willing staff trained as mental health first aiders, who can spot the signs of mental health issues – and sometimes just be there with a cup of tea and a chat. Find out more in one of our previous blogs.
  • Does your organisation offer counselling services? Make sure staff know how to access them.
  • Is the workload too heavy on some of your employees? This can lead to mental health issues if they feel under too much pressure. Make time to review job descriptions and workloads.
  • Make employees aware that your organisation promotes a healthy work-life balance. Employees who are drained and burned out are not giving their best to the company. Do you have a gym on-site or could you negotiate a special rate with the local gym for your employees?
  • In similar fashion, offer flexible working if it is an option for your industry. Read more on this in our blog here.
  • Promote work-life balance. If your staff work long hours and have no home or family life, they will burn out quickly. Make sure your organisation recognises the importance of a healthy balance.
  • Be aware of the risk of suicide and include it in the organisation’s health and well-being programme. Business in the Community’s suicide prevention toolkit is useful.

Find more help by downloading the People Manager’s Guide to Mental Health from the CIPD.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

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

Embrace HR Aylesbury No Deal Brexit

As the UK goes hurtling towards a no-deal Brexit – general elections, resignations and repeat referenda notwithstanding – what are the issues for employees, especially the EU citizens, and how can HR professionals help?

EU Settlement Scheme

If your organisation employs people from the EU and Switzerland, they can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme – this is something you can support them with. The scheme is designed to help them, along with their family members, attain the correct immigration status needed to stay in the UK.

This is not only vital for them but will enable your company to retain its experienced staff, allow for continuation, and avoid the costs and time taken to recruit new staff.

There is an employer’s toolkit online [GOV.UK: EU Settlement Scheme: employer toolkit], which will help you to help them to find the right information and guidance.

More than a million people have been granted the correct status through the scheme, and should we end up with a no-deal Brexit, the deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020, so it’s important to get on this as quickly as possible.

If we leave the EU on October 31, your employees must be resident in the UK by that date to be considered, so if you are in the middle of recruiting, you will need to get a move on!

Those who have been resident here for more than five years are likely to receive ‘settled’ status, while those with less than five years of continuous residence are likely to be awarded ‘pre-settled’ status. Once they complete five years, they can apply for settled status.

What about your staff members who work abroad in EU Member states? How can you help them?

You will be responsible for letting them know about any changes to visa or residency requirements. In the short term, each state has been advised to give resident permits to any UK citizens living in the EU, but what will happen in the longer term is not so clear. You will need to keep up to date with each country’s policies, which are published by the European Commission.

What will happen in the future?

If you employ EU/Swiss citizens after the October 31 deadline, they will still be able to stay here for up to three years, by applying for European Temporary Leave to Remain. After that time, they will be subject to the UK’s new immigration system – which is set to apply from January 2021.

The system will have requirements such as job offer, minimum salary and skills – you can see all the details here [GOV.UK: The UK’s future skills-based immigration system]. However, it is still open to change.

Travel abroad

Does your company send staff abroad for meetings or to speak at conferences? The good news is that UK citizens will be exempt from any visa requirements for visits of up to 90 days if they are business related.

Workplace rights

No changes will be made straight away, but you should ensure you have plans in place and a degree of flexibility to deal with any changes without interrupting your business operations.

Keep them informed!

Nobody likes to be kept in the dark. Keep your staff informed about possible changes, and company actions that are being taken to manage Brexit. Senior management should be instrumental in being as open as possible about contingency plans, being reassuring about any changes, and demonstrating that the organisation is prepared for whatever happens. This stops rumours circulating and affecting morale among staff members.

You can find more information on how to plan for Brexit with the CIPD’s Continuity Planning for HR Brexit and beyond.

You might like to refer to our other articles on Brexit here:

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

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

Embrace HR Aylesbury water bottle heatwave

As the weather heats up again this week, experts predict UK summers will continue to get hotter, keeping staff happy, healthy and motivated will be ever-more important…

The latest research suggests that the next three years could be ‘anomalously warm’ [BBC News: Next few years ‘may be exceptionally warm’ 14/08/2018].

The years up to 2022 could see extreme temperatures according to the research, which appeared in the journal Nature Communications [Nature Communications: A novel probabilistic forecast system predicting anomalously warm 2018-2022 reinforcing the long-term global warming trend 14/08/2018].

With the trend expected to see some of the hottest-ever summers in the UK, it is important that employers consider how they will ensure their staff remain comfortable and happy during hot weather.

This is especially key in a country where air coolers and conditioners are not the norm.

As many modern buildings are made from glass, it is unsurprising that offices can start to feel like greenhouses. Of course, manufacturing and warehouse buildings have similar issues. So much so that the TUC (Trades Union Congress) is calling for a change in the law to ensure that no indoor workplace temperature is higher than 30°C (27°C for strenuous work) and that employers bring in cooling measures when the temperature hits 24°C.

At present, no legislation exists – instead government guidance [GOV.UK: Workplace temperatures] says that indoor workplaces must be a ‘reasonable’ temperature, with a suggested minimum of 16°C (13°C for physical work) but no maximum temperature suggested.

It makes perfect business sense to ensure your staff are not too hot. After all, it is hard to be productive in a stuffy, hot building.

And you are more likely to see absenteeism during a heatwave – watch out for a rise in sick days on Mondays and Friday. It’s understandable that it’s hard to feel motivated when the sun is shining, the office is boiling and a day in the garden or a trip to the coast is more inviting than a sweaty, long commute and hours stuck in the office.

So what can HR departments to do help? Here’s a few ideas:

Flexible hours

If your business allows for flexibility, let staff come in and leave earlier or later to avoid the hottest parts of the day and the rush hour. You’ll see a difference on Fridays if staff know they can set off early for a weekend trip, barbecue or pub garden!

Relax the dress code

Keeping cool is the priority, but you need to set the boundaries – and remember it needs to be a fair and non-discriminatory dress code. Spend some time compiling a straightforward and easy-to-follow dress policy to keep things simple. For instance, shorts are allowed but not swim/gym wear or hot pants or denim – but of course it depends on the workplace. Sandals are on the list but not flip flops (due to health and safety concerns). In more formal settings, look at where the rules can be relaxed a little to make everyone more comfortable – do people really need to wear ties?

Hydration is key

Your staff need to stay hydrated. Ensure your water coolers are full and refilled regularly. Make sure your staff have water bottles with them and that they are keeping them filled.

Cool treats

If the mercury is really rising, consider a cool treat for your staff. Maybe provide a cool box filled with ice creams and lollies. Perfect on a really hot Friday afternoon when everyone is starting to wilt.

Aircon matters

Air conditioning – if you have it – should be well maintained so that it can cope with extreme temperatures. And if you are lucky enough to have it, windows need to be kept shut, so the air con can work as efficiently as possible.

For buildings without the benefit of air con, circulate the air by opening windows – and bring in some oscillating fans to help.

Turn it off

Finally – it may seem silly, but turn off the lights! Keep the heat down by turning off non-essential electrical items – that includes lights, unused computers, photocopiers and so on.

If you would like to discuss the subject of trust or flexible working further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

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

Embrace HR Aylesbury Workplace Cultire

Workplace culture is the most important driver for staff, according to recent research…

We often write about the importance of looking after staff and investing in creating the right kind of workplace culture, and a recent survey conducted by Speakap has confirmed just how vital this is.

How important is workplace culture?

According to the survey [Speakap: Research Study – The Culture Factor: Improving Employee Loyalty and Relationships], 42% of employees would rather have a 60-hour working week, than work for a company that doesn’t value its workplace culture.

The study asked 1,000 employees from the UK and the US how important workplace culture can be when it comes to attracting and retaining staff – a massive 58% said they would move to a rival company if the workplace culture was more attractive.

And the most important part of that workplace culture, according to those employees? Respect and fairness, trust and integrity, and teamwork.

How can HR departments help?

And this is where HR departments come in… does your workplace culture need reviewing? How often do you do this? Do managers think that offering the odd free lunch or team night out is enough? Clearly, this survey shows that this is not what people are looking for.

While the social aspect may be attractive, especially if you have a young workforce, for older employees with other commitments outside of work, it is the way they are treated during the working day that will be most important.

When you are in a workplace for seven hours or more each day, being able to benefit from open and honest communication with more senior staff is far more rewarding than a couple of free drinks on a Friday afternoon. And, in the long term, knowing that your company is committed to helping you to learn new skills and invest in training you is far more valuable than an annual big party, which costs the staff member money in childcare and a hangover the next day on the school run!

Five ways to assess your workplace culture

  1. Take a look at your onboarding process: make sure your process is up to date and engaging, and helps the new member of the team learn everything they need to know to get up and running in a speedy and efficient manner.
  2. Are your senior staff open with employees? Times have changed and leadership needs to be open to change too.
  3. Take a look at reward schemes – it doesn’t all need to be about bonuses – especially if they mean your staff pay more tax. Think of more personal ways to say thank you.
  4. Encourage teamwork – work with staff to help teams work better with each other – to be supportive, co-operative and to communicate better.
  5. Ask your staff! Feedback from employees about how they feel about work, the company, their everyday challenges, will give you a great picture of your workplace culture – a lot of negative feedback will tell you there are some changes to be made!

Stop Press

As you may be aware, on Tuesday 16 July, MP Helen Whatley used the 10-Minute Rule to bring her innovative Flexible Working Bill into parliament. The bill was given approval to go to a second reading today on Wednesday 17 July – this development is a triumph for the organisations behind the campaign, who have been working tirelessly for the past 5 years to bring this to fruition [The House – Helen Whately: Employers should make all jobs flexible by default 15/07/2019].

Mother Pukka, Pregnant then Screwed, Fatherhood Institute and Fawcett Society joined forces to create the Flex For All campaign, calling on government to demand flexible working, meaning that all job roles must be advertised as flexible from day one of employment.

Anna Whitehouse aka Mother Pukka commented: ‘We have been campaigning over 5 years for effective flexible working and today it seems the tide is turning. It feels like the Government is listening, businesses are listening and that the people are being listened to! Finally flexible working is being seen as something for people – all people – and not just ‘mummies who want to see more of their babies’. Crucially, this is now being seen as something that is not just good for employees but ultimately it’s proven to be very good for business too. Flexible working is simply for people wanting to live and often those with responsibilities beyond their control. Those people who want to get off the 9-5 hamster wheel, those who want to work the odd day from home, those living with disabilities, those with medical conditions, those with caring responsibilities – the list goes on. Today is a huge moment for the #FlexAppeal #FlexForAll campaign. Today is the first day we have been heard.’ 

You might also be interested in reading our other blogs related to this subject matter:

Is Flexible Working Your Friend?
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Being the Best – Starting at the Top
Is Yours a People Company?

If you would like to discuss the subject of trust or flexible working further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited 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.