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Take Action #2 / Is diversity on the leadership agenda?

Posted on: July 2nd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

“Beliefs and the feelings we have about social groups…can influence our decision making and our actions, even when we’re not aware of it.” – Eberhardt, 2019.

For as long as our predisposition to favour people similar to ourselves is unaddressed, discrimination is likely to exist covertly (and sometimes overtly). We’ve provided our suggestions on speaking up, making a difference, and taking action:

  1. Lead with diversity – if your Board isn’t representative of the culture you’re trying to create, do something about it? Consider positively discriminating in favour of candidates who offer a more diverse outlook (see previous update).
  2. Be aware of your limitations – consider equality and diversity champions (who have clout). However fair and diverse your outlook, you’re likely to unconsciously favour individuals similar to yourself. That means that when investigating a harassment, grievance, or a complaint of discrimination, through no fault of your own, your empathy and understanding of a situation may be lacking and one-sided. A team of diverse leaders who are responsible for calibrating and approving your approach (or investigating the issues themselves) should bring balance and better decision-making.
  3. Ask the audience – an inclusion and diversity team of interested individuals should support you to identify opportunities and challenges to diversity across the business.
  4. Cut out the cover ups – we’ve all seen scenarios where a manager allows the best sales person to push the boundaries of what is acceptable (or even go beyond them). A zero tolerance approach to harassment and discrimination, whilst in the short-term may give rise to a flurry of complaints and grievances, should eventually create a culture of fairness and respect with fewer hours spent managing complaints and recruiting replacements.
  5. Consider confidentiality – if you’re proud of your diverse approach, and have done all of some of the above, is there a need for a provision within your settlement agreements asking the individual to keep confidential the circumstances leading to their exit? A bold approach but one worth a conversation?

These decisions and conversations are certainly challenging. Securing the right support and advice is key to achieving the right outcome, while minimising risk. We can support your with an unlimited advice resource to help with these challenges – click here to find out how. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (03 July 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

School’s out – flexible furlough’s in?

Posted on: June 25th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

School holidays are just around the corner, as are potential childcare challenges. Government guidance and a lack of summer kids’ clubs are likely to hinder the usual family, friends or third-party care arrangements meaning employees could be looking to you again for flexibility.

‘Business as usual’, means you’ll need to balance your resourcing needs with possible flexibility for employees genuinely without childcare alternatives. So what are your options?

  1. Ask for evidence – if you suspect that efforts to manage childcare requirements have been light and your employee has failed to convince you of their genuine need to care personally for their children, you are able to turn down any request for flexibility. Although bear in mind that in doing so you could be refusing a statutory right, so take advice before taking this approach.
  2. Flexible furlough – it’s still possible to furlough employees for childcare reasons. The new rules give you the flexibility to have a conversation with employees about their childcare needs, and try and come to an arrangement where they’re able to work part of the week, and spend one or two days on flexible furlough. For more detail on how the new rules work, click here. Don’t forget these arrangements need to be made in writing.
  3. Unpaid parental leave – parents or those with parental responsibility can take up to four weeks’ unpaid leave a year per child. This may work for some, but prove an economic challenge for single parents or carers.
  4. Holiday entitlement – you could ask employees to cancel holiday booked later in the year and use it over this period, or even bring holiday forward from next year (providing this doesn’t take them below the statutory minimum next year). Likewise, if they share child-caring responsibilities with the other parent you could suggest they stagger their holidays so that between both parents they cater for four weeks’ of the holiday (if both take two weeks’ off).
  5. Flexible working – working from home, varied start/finish times and compressed hours are a few ways you can work with your employees to help balance the needs of the business and their childcare challenges. Embracing such arrangements may pay dividends year-round, and not just over the summer months.

Undoubtedly, every employee will have a different situation with unique challenges, so we’d always recommend taking early advice from us before tackling the situation.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (25 June 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Working safely – practical actions for businesses

Posted on: June 4th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Over and above hygiene and social distancing requirements, a safe return to work can present you with a wider range of people challenges – reluctant returners, dealing with health and safety concerns, sickness absence (to name a few). Our ‘safe return to work’ policy and guidance note can help you manage those challenges. Click here to find out more.

The government have recently updated their guidance to working safely during the current pandemic. Their practical actions cover five key steps which we’ve outlined below, but you should also refer back to relevant guidance for your specific sector which can be found here

1 – Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment 

You need to think about the risks your employees face, and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them. There’s no expectation for you to eliminate the risk entirely.

You’ll need to consult with your employees (or trade unions), carry out the assessment in line with HSE guidance, and share the results with your employees (or on your website if you have more than 50 employees).

2 – Cleaning procedures 

Put proactive routines in place to:

  1. Ensure appropriate hand washing / drying facilities and provide hand sanitiser around the workplace (entrances / exits, doorways and communal areas are good places to start)
  2. Frequently clean communal / busy areas, and objects or surfaces touched regularly
  3. Explain clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets

3 – Homeworking 

All reasonable steps should be taken to help people work from home where possible. This involved discussing arrangements with employees, ensuring they have the necessary technical equipment, and supporting their physical and mental wellbeing (here’s a reminder of our thoughts).

You should also consider carrying out a homeworking risk assessment – if you need support or guidance as to what this entails, click here and we can connect you with the right support.

4 – Maintaining two-meter social distancing 

  1. Avoid sharing work stations
  2. Put up signage to remind employees and visitors of the measures in place
  3. Mark out areas to help people maintain appropriate distance and arrange a one-way system through the workplace where possible
  4. Arrange for visitors to be by appointment only where possible

5 – Where the above can’t be achieved

If it’s not possible to maintain two-meter social distancing, you should manage transmission risk by:

  1. Considering whether certain activities need to continue in order for your business to operate
  2. Use screens to separate people, limit activity time as much as possible, and work back-to-back or side-to-side where possible
  3. Stagger arrival / leave times and reduce employee contacts by ‘partnering or fixing teams’

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (05 July 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Managing divisions

Posted on: June 3rd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

It would be an understatement to say that racial tensions are running high in America. With such emotive issues, emotions may well bubble over, particularly when teams are stretched and tired.

It doesn’t matter that something was a joke, was taken out of context or was said with the best of intentions – if an employee takes offence, a harassment claim can be expensive to deal with on many levels.

Beyond that, strength of opinion can divide as well as cement employee relationships and can create friction that is difficult to manage well. It’s a good time to remind managers of:

  1. The training they’ve recently received around dignity and respect at work
  2. Where to find your equal opportunities policy, and to have a read
  3. How to spot bubbling issues and deal with them quickly and sensitively
  4. When to discuss issues with your HR/People team
  5. The fact they may express an understanding of the importance of the issues, but not to encourage disagreements or divisive opinion
  6. The fact they should think carefully before involving themselves in emotive discussions

If you don’t already have them in place, or are looking to review and update your equal opportunities and dignity and respect at work policies, our Intelligent Employment platform will be able to help. Find out more.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (03 June 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Now live: test and trace service

Posted on: June 1st, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

The test and trace system is now live. It means anyone with coronavirus symptoms can be tested, the service informs contacts of any need to self-isolate, and requires individuals who test positive to share that fact with close recent contacts.

Here’s what you need to know: 

  1. If an employee is notified that they have had contact with an infected person, they will be told to remain at home for 14 days from the most recent contact. They will be eligible for SSP during that period unless they can work from home or take holiday.
  2. An employee told by the test and trace service to remain at home will receive a notification which they can show you as evidence of the fact they need to self-isolate (and which can be used by you to claim under the SSP rebate scheme). You should not encourage them back into work until the 14 days has expired.
  3. Employees with coronavirus symptoms should be encouraged to alert colleagues they’ve been in contact with within the previous 48 hours. Those colleagues must avoid individuals at high risk of contracting coronavirus, take extra care to socially distance, watch out for symptoms and maintain good hygiene.
  4. The test and trace service will ask your employee to share a positive test result with close recent contacts. The service will liaise with particular visited sites including care homes and notify contacts who need to self-isolate.
  5. The app is still in testing stage but when available you’ll be able to ask your employees to download it to minimise the risk of them contracting and spreading coronavirus, particularly where they have travelled on public transport.

All of the above should be included within your ‘safe return to work policy’. If you don’t already have one in place, click here to purchase ours.

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (01 June 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.