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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.

Flexible furlough – secure it in writing

Posted on: June 22nd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

If you’re planning to make use of the new ‘flexible furlough’ rules from 1 July, government guidance requires you to write to those affected employees confirming this is the case.

We’ve created a straight-talking, user-friendly template letter for you to provide to those affected. Our template:

  1. Helps you explain why you still need to utilise the Job Retention Scheme
  2. Secures in writing the necessary detail to allow you to claim reimbursement under the new rules
  3. Provides a comprehensive 16 point FAQ to clearly explain the new status to employees, your expectations and their obligations during their period of flexible furlough
  4. Explains how their new status affects their employment rights, pay and benefits, holiday and more, helping to reduce the number of employee queries you’ll receive

Click here if you’d like to purchase a copy of our template (£120+VAT). 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (22 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.

Take Action #1 / Unconscious prejudice – time for positive practices?

Posted on: June 18th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

As we saw with #MeToo, we’re experiencing further cultural change which is likely to filter into working environments. The Black Lives Matter campaign highlights yet again the need for positive action around diversity. The ‘time to speak up’ is likely to mean employees feel they have a greater voice and power to address issues.

It’s likely that you’ve thought, discussed or planned to address imbalance of under-represented groups within your business, but if you look around have you been successful? Is there still unconscious prejudice at play? Do you need to take a more disrupting approach to equality? Is it really on your agenda?

Throughout this ‘Take Action’ series, we’ll be talking about some of the approaches you could take not only to present a more culturally contemporary approach to employment, but also reduce the possibility of a successful employment tribunal claim.

One approach you’re able to take is to positively address demographic imbalance by recruiting individuals from under-represented groups.

If you want to recruit an individual from an underrepresented group to address an imbalance, remember:

  1. You need clear evidence of an imbalance
  2. You are only able to favour a candidate because of a protected characteristic (like sex or race) if you can show that they are equally qualified as the next best candidate
  3. You can show that you’ve considered alternatives to your decision to positively discriminate
  4. That your approach to recruitment of under-represented groups is proportionate to the challenge you’re trying to overcome

Decisions and conversations involving protected characteristics 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 (18 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.

Executive People Update

Posted on: June 17th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

As part of keeping you in our focus during the coronavirus pandemic, our executive people update ensures you’re on top of the latest changes in legislation, case and employment law trends. Click here for more information about how we can support you to manage the latest changes.

Tribunal fees

According to The Times, the Ministry of Justice has asked the Law Commission to provide its recommendations for “a coherent system for charging and updating fees in the future”.

This is a welcome sign for many employers. Watch this space for more details.

Furlough fraud 

By the end of May, HMRC had received almost 1,900 reports of fraudulent use of the Job Retention Scheme. They’re now assessing the reports to determine actions and next steps. The figures are not broken down into specifics, however it’s likely those reported have been asking employees to carry out work while furloughed or furloughing employees without telling them.

An HMRC spokesperson has stated that if you’ve made a genuine mistake, they want to work with you to put it right. So if at any point you suspect you’ve made a mistake within your claim, it’s best to approach HMRC immediately to resolve the issue.

Face covering fines 

You’ll have no doubt seen in the news that wearing a face mask or face covering is now compulsory on public transport. Anyone not doing so can be refused aboard, and issued with a £100 fine. The rules only apply while on board public transport (not while waiting), however stations are encouraging people to use face coverings at all times.

You should make sure all employees required to travel to work via public transport are aware of these new rules, and have access to a suitable face covering allowing them to avoid potential fines or being unable to travel to work. The government have provided guidance on how you can make your own face covering at home.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (17 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.