November, 2017

Negotiating a graceful exit

Negotiating the exit of an employee is one of the hardest jobs faced by employers. Although the personal aspect can be difficult, from a legal point of view, ‘protected conversations’ where the employer negotiates an exit with the employee, can help mitigate risk, as long as certain requirements are met, including there being no ‘improper conduct’.

Protected conversations can make raising issues with an employee, such as performance and capability, more straightforward. Should an employee subsequently bring an unfair dismissal claim, protected conversations are normally inadmissible as evidence.
However, employers need to be mindful of correct conduct and be aware of the following:

• There is a risk of presenting the offer as a done deal at an early stage. To avoid this, it is important to make sure that the employee understands that there are other options available to them, and what those options might be.
• The employer must also give the employee reasonable time to consider the offer and to answer any questions the employee may have, particularly if the discussion comes as a surprise.
• Protected conversations do not give employers carte blanche to say and do what they like in any circumstance. Presenting an ultimatum could leave the employer without the protection they were looking to achieve by having the protected conversation in the first place.

  • Posted on November 30th, 2017

Supermarket failed to explain the consequences of breaching health and safety rules

An employee working in a supermarket’s delivery yard was unfairly dismissed for wearing headphones, an employment tribunal has ruled.

The Employment Tribunal heard that the employee worked for Sainsbury’s as a commercial assistant in the delivery yard until his dismissal.

He worked in a known high-risk area: the loading bay and delivery yard dealing with the store’s deliveries from articulated lorries and the loading and unloading of vans. Although there was a safe working practice notice on the delivery yard’s noticeboard, which included an outline that any employees entering the area were required to wear high-visibility clothing and must be aware of any vehicles entering the yard, it did not specify against wearing headphones.

The store’s overall approach towards health and safety procedures was also covered in its employee handbook, which specified that failure to follow these procedures amounted to gross misconduct.

After the employee was seen wearing headphones at work, he was invited to a disciplinary hearing during which he apologised for his actions and vowed to not repeat them. The meeting ended with his dismissal. Finding the dismissal unfair, the Judge said that Sainsbury’s had focused on an assumption that he would repeat his actions, and had failed to outline that wearing headphones in the delivery yard was a health and safety rule or inform staff of the disciplinary consequences of wearing them.

This demonstrates that behaviour considered to be gross misconduct should be clearly set out in a company’s disciplinary policy – particularly if it intends to dismiss for a first offence.

  • Posted on November 30th, 2017

When a Christmas gift is a bribe…

When the Bribery Act 2010 came into effect in July 2011, it was considered one of the toughest pieces of anti-bribery and corruption legislation in the world and thrust the activities of employees across a whole variety of sectors into the spotlight.

The Act was introduced to address concerns that the giving of corporate hospitality, gifts, and expenses could amount to a criminal offence. The Act can be difficult to interpret because there is no legal definition of ‘gift’, ‘corporate hospitality’, or ‘expense’. Businesses have to decide on their own parameters and incorporate them into company policies. In the run up to Christmas many managers are the recipient of “goodwill gestures” and it is important to remember obligations under the Bribery Act.

To avoid falling foul of the Act, companies need to make sure their anti-bribery and corruption polices are clear, accessible, and training provided to staff. It is important to prohibit gifts, hospitality, or expenses which can be seen to give someone a financial or other advantage. It’s always a good idea to impose an upper limit on gifts and to make sure that anything received is declared. Business professionals can still go out for dinner with clients and continue to accept gifts providing they fall within the limit stated within company policy. At this time of year, as gifts are offered and accepted, a good policy is to “pool” all gifts and divide them equally with all staff – this avoids any suggestion that one particular manager has been influenced by a gift!

  • Posted on November 30th, 2017

Last remaining places for Presentation and Communication Skills!

Effective Presentation and Communication Skills

7th December 2017 in Dundee

Do you lack confidence at work? Do you feel that you or your team need a bit of help to improve your presentation style and have more confidence to deal with formal situations with clients or team members?

This workshop covers how to use verbal and non-verbal communication to your advantage. Learn how to control your voice and tone and learn techniques for increasing confidence. Improve your presence and ultimately feel great about presenting your products and services in the best way.
This workshop will cover:

• Verbal and non-verbal communication styles and skills
• Effective breathing techniques to help with confidence
• Presentation styles and delivery techniques
• Handling questions during a presentation

Who is it For?

Anyone, in any role who feels they need confidence in their presentation style.

Price: £160 + VAT, per person. Maximum of 4 delegates per organisation. Contact us to find out about multiple booking discount available

Time: 10.00am – 16.00pm.
Book now: click here to book your place or contact us at

  • Posted on November 30th, 2017

New Statutory Rates for Sick Pay from April 2018

The Government has published the statutory rates for sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay from April 2018.

The rate of statutory sick pay is increasing from £89.35 to £92.05. This increase is expected to occur on 6 April 2018. To be entitled to these statutory payments, the employee’s average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit. The lower earnings limit is increasing from £113 to £116 in April 2018.

The current weekly rate of statutory maternity pay is £140.98, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate.
The rate of statutory maternity pay is rising to £145.18 from April 2018. The increase normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which in 2018 is 1 April.

Also on 1 April 2018, the rates of statutory paternity pay and statutory shared parental pay will go up from £140.98 to £145.18 (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate).

The rate of statutory adoption pay will increase from £140.98 to £145.18.
This means that, from 1 April 2018, statutory adoption pay is payable at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, with the remainder of the adoption pay period at the rate of £145.18, or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is less than £145.18.

The rates normally increase each April in line with the consumer price index (CPI).

  • Posted on November 29th, 2017

Tightening up on “self employed” status – draft bill

The work and pensions committee and the business select committee has jointly published a report into working practice of so called gig economy workers which states that they face an “unacceptable burden” of having to prove they are workers – rather than self-employed – to access basic employment rights.

There is now in place a “draft bill” recommending that individuals in the gig economy be considered ‘workers by default’, entitling them to employment rights and benefits such as holiday and sick pay. Alternatively, companies will have to prove that their working practices genuinely mirror self-employment.

The bill suggests that the law around the gig economy should be tightened to stop companies using false self-employment status for “cheap labour and tax avoidance”, to prevent the law being used to facilitate workers’ exploitation for competitive advantage.

The bill, which will now be put before the Prime Minister for consideration, is described as a proposal to “end the mass exploitation” of people in the gig economy.

Employment lawyers, however, warned that the bill’s proposal to place the onus of choosing the appropriate employment status on employers could lead to an unfair burden on businesses. If the onus is on the employer to prove self-employed status in any claim, there will need to be careful thought given to deterring vexatious claims.

  • Posted on November 29th, 2017

Are you dreading your appraisal?

January is often the time that businesses think about appraisals. Do you and your team “dread” appraisals? Here are some top tips to ease the dread and create a valuable and rewarding process:

1. Keep a performance diary
It is important for both managers and employees to note down their achievements, accomplishments and challenges as they occur, when the details are fresh in their minds. Keeping a diary will allow you to refer back and set future goals and objectives.

2. Monitor progress on goals
Managers and employees should review goals on a regular basis. The goals need to remain appropriate and relevant to ensure they can still be achieved. A lot can change throughout a year therefore it is important to ensure both managers and employees are happy with the current goals and what they mean.

3. Provide ongoing coaching and development
Employee development should not be addressed once a year. Development activities should be assigned to employees throughout the year to ensure growth and improvement. Regular meetings between managers and employees will allow these to be evaluated.

4. Communicate the value of ongoing performance management
It is vital to remind employees to make notes on their performance and update the status of their objectives and development activities. This will encourage them to continuously be aware of their personal development.

5. Support managers with the right tools.
Providing leadership training, tools and resources to support managers in providing ongoing coaching and feedback is very important.

  • Posted on November 29th, 2017

New National Minimum Wage Rates

In the Government’s Autumn budget, it has been confirmed that the national living wage and the national minimum wage will increase in Spring next year.

From April 2018, the national living wage (applicable to workers aged 25 and over) will increase from £7.50 to £7.83.

At the same time, the national minimum wage is set to increase as follows:

• 21 – 24 year olds – the rate will increase from £7.05 to £7.38;
• 18 – 20 year olds – the rate will increase from £5.60 to £5.90;
• 16 – 17 year olds – the rate will increase from £4.05 to £4.20; and
• apprentices – the rate will increase from £3.50 to £3.70.

If you have any questions about the national minimum wage, the national living wage, or any other employment matter please do not hesitate to contact

  • Posted on November 29th, 2017

Beat the Budget with cost effective HR support from 121

With the Budget on everyone’s mind today just a reminder that 121 HR Solutions can deliver outsourced HR support to suit any budget! We offer cost effective monthly HR Business Partnership Packages, one off HR Project Support or simply check contracts and handbooks to ensure they meet all current legislation – you really can’t afford not to contact us!! Freephone 0800 9995 121 or

  • Posted on November 22nd, 2017

Gender bias in recruitment – which words are “biased”?

A large-scale study of British recruitment adverts has revealed that that the use of gender-biased wording in advertising decreases the likelihood of job applications from female candidates.

Sex discrimination in the workplace, whether conscious or unconscious, may begin at an even earlier stage than many believe, according to the results from a recent study.

Among the adverts reviewed, 478,175 words were thought to carry a gender bias, with ads for social care and admin roles most likely to use female-biased language. By contrast, sales and management roles were among the ads most likely to use male-biased language.

The study found that gender-biased language was often used to describe traditional male roles such: lead, analyse, competitive, active and confident. In contrast, adverts that sought softer skills were often unconsciously slanted towards women, deploying words such as: support, responsible, understanding, dependable and committed.

  • Posted on November 22nd, 2017

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