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April is stress awareness month and this year’s theme is ‘little by little’, which aims to highlight the impact of small positive actions on overall wellbeing. We consider the impact stress can have, how to be alert to it and what managers can do to support employees.

Stressful feelings typically happen when we feel we do not have the resources to manage the challenges we face. Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope at work can have a significant impact on an employee’s performance, conduct and relationships with colleagues.

What causes stress?

 With regard to the workplace, employees can experience stress as a result of several factors such as:

  • Excessive demands from their role
  • Their workload feels unmanageable
  • They feel out of their depth with the task(s) they have been asked to perform
  • Disputes with a colleague or manager

It can also be the case that if your employee is suffering from stress because of one factor then they become more susceptible to being affected by other factors, and so the list of stressors expands quickly.

What are the impacts of chronic stress?

Stress in minor-to-moderate doses may be expected, as the body is equipped to handle these reactions and some people find a modest amount of stress to be quite helpful and motivating. However, the problem arises with ongoing stress – which can have serious consequences. Chronic stress impacts the entire body and can harm wellbeing in the long-term.

Ongoing stress is a risk factor for heart disease, dementia, stroke, accelerated aging, depression, anxiety, insulin resistance, prolonged digestive issues, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

From a mental health perspective and in the context of work, stress can now amount to a disability within the Equality Act 2010. Chronic stress may negatively impact an employee’s:

  • Outlook on life
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Performance in the workplace
  • Quality of self-care
  • Attendance levels and absences

Recent statistics issued by the Health and Safety Executive reveal that 1.8 million workers reported they were suffering from work-related ill health in 2022/23, with approximately half of the cases down to stress, depression or anxiety.

With this in mind, it is important employers and line managers are alert to those employees who might be suffering stress.

Spotting the signs in employees

These may not always be obvious or even caused by work, but the signs will be there. For example, is someone taking more time off, arriving for work later or being more twitchy or nervous? A change in behaviour can also be a sign of stress such as:

  • Mood swings
  • Being withdrawn
  • Loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
  • Increased emotional reactions – being more tearful, sensitive or aggressive

Sometimes employees may even start self-medicating with alcohol.

What should employers do?

The first step is to talk with your employee. Being sensitive and supportive is key – they may not wish to talk about the situation or may not have identified the stress for themselves. Make time for a meeting in the working day and discuss the matter in private. Once the employee begins to share what they are experiencing, you should be open minded about how they might be feeling. Ask open questions and really listen to what you are being told. Try to establish the cause of the stress with the employee and work together on identifying possible solutions.

Although this is highly dependent on the cause of the issue and the circumstances of the employee, possible solutions could include:

  • Making temporary changes to work duties
  • Allowing the employee to work flexibly for a period to enable them to deal with a domestic issue
  • Discuss making an occupational health referral
  • Signpost them to your Employee Assistance Programme if you operate one
  • Recommend external agencies for additional support, such as Mind or the Samaritans

Importantly, arrange to follow up with the employee to discuss how they are doing and what further support they might need.

There is no ‘one size fits all approach to helping an employee with stress. It is often not a simple or quick fix. If left unchecked, it can have numerous consequences, but with ongoing support, it may be possible for things to improve for the employee, which in turn may well assist to get their performance in their role back on track.

If you would like our support in managing a stress-related situation in your workplace or to develop relevant policies and guidance, please contact Simon Martin in our team on 07384 813 076.

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On 6 April 2024, the widely discussed changes to flexible working will come into force, when the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 take effect. Here’s what those changes are, what they mean for employers and what needs to be considered going forward.

What’s changing?

If you ask most people what the changes to flexible working are, they will say that the service requirement has been removed, as that has been the source of most discussion and debate. In fact, the legislation is actually making more changes than perhaps people realise. A summary of these changes includes:

  • ‘day one right’ – currently employees can only make a flexible working request once they have 26 weeks continuous employment. From 6 April 2024, this becomes a ‘day one’ right.
  • Two requests – currently employees can only make one flexible working request every twelve months. With these changes, employees will be able to make two statutory flexible working requests every twelve months.
  • Timescales reduced to two months – the current timescale for employers to deal with flexible working requests is three months. This reduces to two months under these changes.
  • Employers will not be able to refuse a request until they have consulted with the employee
  • Removal of the need for employees to explain the effect of the proposed change on the organisation, or how that could be dealt with when making a request

The changes do not affect an employer’s ability to reject requests on eligibility grounds or for one or more prescribed statutory reasons.

What does this mean for employers?

With the removal of a service requirement and greater application opportunities, it is possible that employers may see an increase in the number of flexible working requests, so it may present a ‘numbers’ challenge in the first instance. Employers should ensure any requests received, are acknowledged and tracking systems are in place to monitor progress.

Perhaps of more critical importance is the consideration of the reduced timescales and what that means for internal procedures. To ensure compliance, it will be essential that meetings are scheduled and responses returned, including any appeal, within the two-month period. You can extend the timescales but only with agreement from the employee. But critically, managers should look to maintain momentum in reviewing requests to avoid any unnecessary delays.

Importantly the responsibility is now on employers to give careful consideration to the request, its impact and how it might be accommodated. You can ask your employee to consider these and make any suggestions, but you cannot make it a compulsory part of the process.

What should employers do now?

  • Review your flexible working policies to ensure that they reflect the new requirements. Put in measures and systems that support being able to deal with requests within the timescale required. This might include putting in tracking systems to monitor the progress of requests, as well as guidance documentation so everyone involved understands their roles and obligations in the process
  • Train line managers on how to handle flexible working requests in light of the new requirements, particularly providing guidance on how they might make best use of the meeting with their employee, to explore the request and how it can be accommodated
  • Communicate the changes to staff. Letting staff know that these changes have come in and you have adapted your policies accordingly, can be a positive step for employee relations and increase employee engagement

Whilst some employers may consider the changes in legislation onerous, it is important to remember the benefits of flexible working for both employees and employers:

  • Allows employees to proactively manage other commitments, leading to less time taken off
  • Wider pool for recruitment
  • Positive for employer brand and attracting candidates
  • Retention of experienced and valued staff who might otherwise have to leave if they can no longer work their existing work pattern
  • Can promote a more diverse and inclusive workforce
  • Enhanced morale and motivation

The new legislation will not change the core principles behind flexible working. It remains a tool for employees and employers to discuss possible changes to ways of working and how that might be mutually beneficial. What the changes will do is make adaptations to eligibility, timescales and internal processes for dealing with requests. By taking a proactive approach and updating policies and internal procedures, as well as refreshing line manager training, organisations will ensure they are best placed to respond to any requests that are received under the new legislation.

If you would like any support in dealing with flexible working requests, drafting policy and guidance material or line manager training, please contact Sue Meehan Boyes in our team on 07384 468 797.

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A number of changes to family leave come into force on 6 April 2024 – introduction of Carer’s leave and changes to existing legislation on paternity leave and pregnancy and maternity rights. We take a brief look at those changes, highlighting the important points for employers.

Carer’s leave

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 (SI 2024/251) come into force on 6 April 2024. These regulations will introduce a new statutory right to unpaid carer’s leave for employees in England, Wales and Scotland:

  • From 6 April 2024, employees will be able to take one week’s unpaid leave per twelve-month rolling, to provide or arrange care for a dependant with long-term care needs
  • The leave will be a ‘day one’ right, meaning that staff will not require a minimum period of service
  • The leave can be taken in one block or periods of a day or half a day
  • The leave is pro-rated to reflect an employee’s working arrangement
  • For the purposes of the regulations, a ‘dependant’ is defined as a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee who lives in the same household as the employee, or reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care
  • A “long-term care need” is defined as an illness or injury that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months, have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, or requires care for a reason connected with their old age
  • Employees will not need to provide evidence of a need to take carer’s leave, but employers will be able to ask staff to self-certify that they are eligible
  • Maximum entitlement is one week, irrespective of the number of dependants

Understanding its application in regard to existing family-friendly policies will be important for employers. For example, carer’s leave is distinct from existing legislation which provides for time off for dependants, which is intended to be used for emergency situations which typically last one or two days. By contrast, carer’s leave has a set duration of one week and is expected to be a planned absence. As such, employers can request that a period of carer’s leave be postponed, provided it can show that the existing request will have a serious disruption to the organisation. Importantly though, an employer cannot request cannot be refused.

Organisations should consider providing training to line managers to deal with requests for carer’s leave and provide guidance on its application.

Ensuring a carer’s leave policy is in place or is incorporated into any existing family friendly policies and procedures. Consideration should be given to creating relevant systems and documentation to support and track any applications.

Communicating the introduction of the new policy will also be an opportunity for employers to demonstrate their commitment to supporting staff deal with their caring responsibilities.

Paternity Leave

On 8 March 2024, the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 came into force and is applicable where the Expected Week of Childbirth is 6 April 2024 onwards. Under the amendments:

  • Employees will be able to choose between taking two non-consecutive weeks of paternity leave or a single period of one or two weeks. Previously the entitlement was for one continuous block of either one or two weeks
  • Employees will be able to alter the dates of their leave, provided they give at least 28 days notice of the change
  • Employees will be able to take leave at any time during the first year following the birth or adoption, as opposed to having to take it within the first eight weeks after adoption or birth

Employers should look to ensure their policies are appropriately updated to reflect the changes in legislation and communicate the changes so that line managers and staff are aware of the revised entitlements.

Pregnancy and maternity leave – extending redundancy protection

Employees on maternity leave already have the right to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy in a redundancy situation. The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024, which come into effect on 6 April 2024 provide for greater protection against redundancy during pregnancy and for six months after return to work from maternity leave as well as certain other family-related leave. The main features of the amendments are:

  • The redundancy protection period (the right for pregnant women and new mothers on maternity leave to be offered suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation) applies from the point that an employee informs their employer that they are pregnant (whether this is done orally or in writing).
  • The redundancy protection period is extended to 18 months after the birth of the child (or adoption placement) for employees returning from maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave.

The changes in relation to maternity leave will effectively double the current period of redundancy protection from one year to around two years, assuming the pregnant employee advises the employer of their pregnancy at about the 12-week point and takes one year’s maternity leave. This could therefore substantially increase the number of employees who must be given priority for any suitable alternative vacancy on redundancy, particularly in workplaces where the majority of employees are women.

Where an employer is looking at possible restructures, they will need to ensure that redundancy processes take account of the extended redundancy protection period where any employees at risk of redundancy are pregnant or have recently returned to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Organisations should also ensure that policies and procedures are reviewed to reflect the changes. Given the significance of the changes, it will also be important to ensure line managers are provided with training and guidance to understand the effect of the enhanced protections now provided.

For specialist HR support with any of these topics, please contact Sue Meehan Boyes in our team on 07384 468797.

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Blue Monday is a term coined by psychologist, Dr Cliff Arnall, in 2004. It refers to the third Monday of January which took place earlier this month on 15 January. While this date has now passed, we take a look at how Employers and HR departments can take action and keep employee wellbeing a focus year-round.

The term has been criticised for having no scientific basis and was originally created for the travel industry for commercial purposes, in order to harness our attention at a pivotal time of year for their sales. Despite the widespread criticism, it is clear that the term can spark important conversations about our wellbeing.

Blue Monday is said to be the ‘most depressing day of the year’, driven by a number of factors:

  • Weather
  • Debt – following the excesses of the Festive season
  • Monthly Salary – most December pay is paid earlier than normal meaning there is a longer than usual lead time to next payday in January
  • Going back to routine following Christmas and New Year celebrations
  • Low motivation levels
  • The feeling of needing to take action

Mind, the mental health charity, reports that at least one in four people will experience mental ill health each year in England. According to research by CIPD, only approximately half of those who experience mental ill health each year will take time off work.

Employers can use Blue Monday as an opportunity to ‘check in’ and review their wellbeing strategy for the year to come. Here are some key considerations for your wellbeing strategy in 2024:

Open Communication Channels: 44% of employees surveyed by CIPD stated they would feel confident disclosing unmanageable stress levels or mental ill health to their current employer. Encourage open and honest communication about mental health in the workplace, fostering a psychologically safe culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their challenges without fear of judgment.

Flexible Work Arrangements: A study by Wildgoose, reported by People Management, found that 39% of those who worked flexibly benefited from improved mental health. Additionally, 43% of those who did not have the option of flexible working felt it would allow them to better manage their mental health. Offer flexible work arrangements to address the diverse needs of your workforce, including remote work options, flexible hours or compressed hours.

Mental Health Resources: According to a survey by CIPD, only 20% of employees feel their employer provides adequate mental health support. Provide access to mental health resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), counselling services, and educational materials, to bridge the gap and destigmatise mental health discussions.

Promote Work-Life Balance: 46% of employees believe their workload is negatively impacting their work-life balance. Encourage a healthy work-life balance by setting realistic expectations, promoting breaks, and discouraging excessive overtime. In the age of increasing use of technology, employers should also consider role modelling positive boundaries between work and personal life.

Training and Awareness: 33% of managers surveyed by Mental Health First Aid England reported feeling out of their depth when supporting team mates through challenges with their mental health. 56% of employees reported that they believe their leaders don’t fully understand mental health issues. Conduct regular training sessions to raise awareness about mental health issues, reduce stigma, and equip employees with tools to manage stress and identify when their mental health might be starting to deteriorate at an early stage.

Beyond Blue Monday

While Blue Monday may highlight the importance of employee wellbeing, your commitment to supporting your employees should extend far beyond a single day of the year. By adopting a year-round approach and being proactive, employers can create a workplace where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to prioritise their mental health.

For tailored support with your wellbeing strategy, contact Kathryn Chidzey-Jones in our team on 07881 092524.

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It’s a new year and what better time to invest in your people as they plan new year goals and achievements?

Why invest in Executive Coaching?

In the ever-evolving landscape for organisations, the need for exceptional leadership has never been more crucial.

Employees’ expectations have changed. They want to be empowered, listened to and asked for their opinion and they want to work in a collaborative way.

Many organisations have not identified this shift in expectations, resulting in greater levels of disengaged employees. Only 21% of employees are engaged according to a 2022 Gallup report.

Retention continues to be a challenge as well, with the CIPD reporting that 6.5 million UK workers were planning to quit their jobs in search of a better role in the Good Work Index 2022.

Those organisations that do nothing to address these changing demands will lose their best employees, face higher employee costs and struggle to compete.

How can Executive Coaching help?

At its core, executive coaching is about cultivating excellence in leadership. It’s a personalised, results-oriented approach that fine-tunes the skills, perspectives and behaviours of senior leaders.

Executive coaching stands tall as a powerful tool to harness the potential of key leaders within organisations. It’s a strategic investment that yields substantial returns.  Executive coaching nurtures resilience, adaptability, and a growth mindset – qualities indispensable in today’s fast-paced environment.

For organisations, the advantages are clear. Enhanced leadership translates to increased team performance, better engagement, and ultimately improved bottom-line results. One senior leader said, “It has not only proved to be a useful exercise in terms of reflecting on my own path, but it has enabled us to really focus on the key aspects that will help drive the business forward“. It’s a domino effect, a well-coached executive inspires and empowers their team, creating a ripple effect of excellence throughout the organisation.

Executive coaching can help individuals in a variety of ways:

  • prepare for an imminent promotion
  • reflect and improve after not being successfully promoted
  • imposter syndrome
  • conflict resolution
  • time management
  • confidence
  • perfectionism, (the list is endless!)

Ultimately, coaching for employees at all levels contributes to a thriving culture – one that values growth, encourages innovation and fosters a sense of purpose. It’s an investment that pays dividends not just in productivity and performance but also in creating a workplace where people feel valued, inspired and fulfilled.

How does it work?

Before any coaching commences, a free ‘Discovery’ 20 minute discussion is held between coach and coachee, to ensure there is good rapport. If both parties are happy to work together, the coachee completes a questionnaire, highlighting useful background information and detailing areas they’d like to focus on during the sessions. Employers may request to have some input into the topics to be explored with the coachee. Most coaching ‘Assignments’ typically consist of six sessions – approximately every three to four weeks – although the frequency can be adapted to suit the individual.

Coaching is such a rewarding and transformative process, really allowing the individual to experiment, confide and grow. With so many benefits for both employees and employers, the new year could be a perfect time to consider what coaching could bring to your organisation!

To find out more, please contact Caitlin Anniss in our team on 07909 683938.

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At the start of this new year, I have been reflecting on mediations that I ran towards the end of last year. One common theme from those taking part was that they wished they had been offered mediation sooner.

In some cases, the conflict between the colleagues had gone on for well over a year – which made those involved dread coming to work. In one case the person said that when they came into work they would first check the staff car park – if they didn’t see the other person’s car they would relax and have a good day at work. If they did, then it really affected their mood and they would become tense throughout the day, as if they were almost mentally preparing for an argument.

In nearly all cases, the conflict affected all aspects of work and personal lives, leading to problems sleeping and impacting their own relationships at home. Usually, all those involved had endured a thoroughly miserable time and some had had periods of sickness absence. From the employer’s perspective, this conflict meant they had a less effective team.

Root causes

These were nearly always the same whatever the factual matrix: a lack of effective communication – having that difficult and exposing conversation. This had led to individuals making a series of assumptions and creating their own echo chambers comprised of certain colleagues, who instead of suggesting a resolution, had stoked the conflict.

In one case, during the joint mediation session, which happened in the afternoon, it became clear that the dispute was in fact based on a series of misunderstandings. It became apparent to them that there was in fact no real dispute, they agreed on a lot, which they were both very surprised to learn, and were soon apologising to each other for the miserable time the other had endured over the past months. This all happened within less than an hour. They spent the rest of the afternoon agreeing on a way to work positively with each other from then on. The discussion then turned to how they could make their respective teams work better together. The change in the atmosphere in the room was astonishing. This outcome was not unusual – mediation has a 90% success rate.

What does mediation involve?

  • Mediation is a relatively short process. It usually takes place over a day, with some pre-planning beforehand so the participants know what to expect. The day begins with individual sessions where each participant is encouraged and supported to write down the issue from their perspective and what they are looking to achieve going forward. The afternoon is a joint session where both parties come together to share their individual perspectives, listen to each other and generate opportunities for future working.
  • Importantly, solutions come from the participants themselves and they own the outcomes.

Could your organisation benefit from mediation?

Do you have any employees who are having an ongoing dispute with a colleague or manager? How long has this been going on for? If it has not been resolved through dialogue, then it may be festering. A festering conflict can, and often does, lead to workplace tensions, grievances, sickness absence and all the other hallmarks of an unhappy working relationship.

With its high success rate and relatively short timescale, mediation could provide a compelling and effective solution. It’s important to remember that it is a voluntary process – you can’t require them to do it. If you can get agreement from both parties to participate in mediation, then it might be one of the best things an employer can do for your employees’ wellbeing.

To find out more about mediation, please contact Accredited Mediator, Simon Martin, in our team on 07384 813076.

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Welcoming New Talent: Narrow Quay HR celebrates the addition of Andrew Miles and Eliza Weisse to the growing team

Andrew Miles joins us from the HE sector where he was an HR Business Partner and member of the senior management team of the largest faculty at the University of Surrey. Andrew brings with him extensive employee relations experience and is adept at navigating complex employee issues with a pragmatic, outcome focused approach.

One of Andrew’s strengths is his ability to act as a trusted advisor to senior leaders, influencing and contributing to problem-solving and decision-making at a senior level.

Before qualifying as an HR professional, Andrew worked at well-known travel agency, Trailfinders, where he managed large sales teams. This ‘real world’ experience of managing people means he understands the challenges that can come with people management and the need to find pragmatic solutions that work on a practical level. We are sure this will resonate with a lot of our clients.  

Andrew’s sector expertise and background make him a great addition to the Narrow Quay team.

Due to our expansion and growth over the last few years, we have also recruited an HR Assistant. Eliza Weisse joins us having recently completed a Masters in Human Resource Management at Cardiff University. 

Eliza will be working alongside the HR Consultants in the Narrow Quay HR team to support them in all aspects of the work that they do. This is a brand new role for Narrow Quay HR that reflects the need to continually review and develop the business to ensure that work can be delivered in the most efficient and cost effective way for our clients.

In addition to her academic achievements, Eliza is also fluent is three languages, which will no doubt also prove useful to our clients.

‘What a brilliant end to 2023. We’re delighted that Andrew and Eliza have joined the team. We’re looking forward to working with Andrew to develop our HE offering. It’s a sector we’ve worked with since our inception, but we feel Andrew’s extensive knowledge and experience will enable us to further increase our sector presence.

The recruitment of Eliza is a really exciting development for us. Providing high quality HR support has always been at the forefront of our vision for Narrow Quay HR. That’s why the team comprises HR Consultants who have backgrounds as either employment lawyers or senior HR professionals. This appointment will not only support the team in the work they do but will also allow us to develop and nurture talent at a more junior level.

Caitlin Anniss and Sarah Martin
Directors, Narrow Quay HR

‘I’m so pleased to have become part of the team at Narrow Quay HR. I’ve been hugely impressed by the range of expertise and experience within the team, and by the way the everyone works so collaboratively to support all our clients. The team has strong values which makes it a great working environment and underpins the work that we do for our clients. I’m looking forward to working more with our existing clients, and in particular to helping expand our work in the HE sector

Andrew Miles
HR Consultant, Narrow Quay HR

I am thrilled to be part of the vibrant and dynamic team at Narrow Quay HR. It’s an exciting opportunity to put my academic knowledge into practice and kickstart my career in such an amazing environment. Narrow Quay HR offers a wealth of expertise and specialised advice making it an ideal place for my professional development. I am looking forward to assisting our consultants and getting to know more of our valuable clients.

Eliza Weisse
HR Assistant, Narrow Quay HR

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Navigating the Festive Maze: A Practical Guide to a Successful and Inclusive Office Christmas Party in 2023.

We say it every year because we see it every year. The fallout from the Christmas party can lead to a busy time for HR professionals. To ensure a smoother experience this year, here is our 2023 guide on how your workplace can sidestep the pitfalls of the annual Christmas party, allowing the HR team a well-deserved Christmas break.

While seasonal parties provide an excellent opportunity for team building and socialising outside the normal working routine, a relaxed atmosphere can occasionally lead to problems. What appears as harmless fun in the moment might take on a different tone the morning after, potentially resulting in friction among colleagues or, in more extreme cases, requiring formal HR intervention.

In our digital age, where images or videos on social media can circulate rapidly, it is important to consider that the consequences of unchecked behaviour can extend beyond the party venue. Sharing of images and comments via social media, with its wide-reaching impact, could have the potential to damage the reputation of your organisation, depending on the nature of the shared content and whether employees comply with social media policies in place. This poses a real risk of reputational damage.

Recent cases of fighting, unwanted attention, comments, or even sexual harassment highlight the potential severity of incidents at work parties. Businesses may be held responsible for the actions of their employees at work parties, even if the event occurs outside regular working hours. So, what can you take to minimise risks?

To mitigate risks and to enable you and your employees to focus on enjoying the festivities, we recommend that you:

  1. Establish and communicate clear ground rules on acceptable behaviour, ensuring that all employees are aware of the guidelines from the outset. It may lead to a couple of grumbles and mutterings of ‘killjoy’ but it is worth saying.
  2. Ensure that managers are aware of expectations around behaviour and set a good example. Do not encourage excessive alcohol consumption – it can often be at the root of poor behaviour.
  3. Promote inclusivity in events. Think about the timing and location, whether all employees will want to drink or stay out late, and how to include colleagues from a variety of religions.

Ultimately, the goal is not to dampen the spirits of employees but to navigate potential issues more smoothly. Taking these precautions seriously will be appreciated in the long run.

For more information – please contact Caitlin Anniss in our team at canniss@narrowquayhr.co.uk or 07909 683 938

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The Government has recently accepted the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission and announced the rates of the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) which will come into force from April 2024.

Bryan Sanderson, chair of the Low Pay Commission, said their recommendation to increase the NLW to £11.44 demonstrates an effort to navigate “a high degree of political and economic uncertainty“.

Currently, the NLW applies to those 23 and above. However, from April 2024 the NLW will expand to include 21- and 22-year-olds.

The NLW will increase by 9.8% from the current £10.42 per hour to £11.44 per hour. For a full-time employee working 37.5 hours per week this equates to a minimum annual salary of £22,308.

Younger employees and apprentices will also see significant pay increases from April 2024, with 18–20-year-olds hourly pay set to increase to a minimum of £8.10 per hour. Additionally, 16–17-year-olds and apprentices will see their pay increase to a minimum of £6.40 per hour which is a huge 21.2% increase from the current minimum in this bracket.

These substantial increases demonstrate an acknowledgement of the tough economic climate, and the challenges employees are facing during the ‘cost of living crisis’. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s Deputy Chief Executive, Kate Shoesmith, stated that this rise “rightly takes into account both cost of living increases and the slow path of pay growth over the last decade or so. It will be a challenge for some employers to adapt“.

However, employers should pause to consider the impact that this may have on their business finances and pay structures. An increase to the lowest paid roles can create pressure on the whole pay structure of an organisation, decreasing the differential between an entry level role and first line management, for example. In some instances, a significant salary increase could result in an entry level role overtaking the first line manager.

We would recommend that all organisations undertake a pay audit to scope the impact that these changes will have on their current pay structure at the earliest opportunity to prepare for April 2024.

At Narrow Quay HR, we are experienced in completing pay audits, pay reviews and if necessary, organisational restructures. For an informal discussion on how we could support you ensure your practices remain in line with the statutory requirements and suit your business strategy, please contact Kathryn Chidzey-Jones in our team on 07881 092524.

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There are important upcoming changes in the holiday entitlement landscape, specifically affecting part-year and irregular hours workers.

This will be relevant to you if you have workers who work varying hours or part of the year only. This is particularly common in the hospitality and education sector.

The Government has recently consulted on proposals to reform holiday entitlements for part-year workers. This was in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Brazel case of last year.

Here’s a brief overview of the upcoming changes:

  • Accrual Method: We will see the introduction of an accrual method to calculate holiday entitlement for part-year, irregular hours workers, and agency workers at 12.07% of hours worked in a pay period.
  • Calculation Timing: Holiday entitlement should now be calculated at the end of each pay period rather than monthly, as initially proposed.
  • Legal Definition: To provide clarity for employers, there will be a legal definition of ‘irregular hours and part-year workers’.
  • Rolled-Up Holiday Pay: A new option will be introduced, allowing the payment of rolled-up holiday pay at the statutory rate of 12.07% – only for irregular hours workers, part-year workers, and specific agency workers. This means that, for those workers, holiday pay can be integrated into a worker’s standard pay at the time of work, rather than during their holiday period.

It’s important to note that the draft regulations are scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2024. The changes will impact part-year and irregular hours workers’ holiday entitlements for leave years beginning on or after April 1, 2024. Until then, part-year and irregular hours workers remain entitled to 5.6 weeks’ unreduced statutory holiday.

What should employers do for now?

Employers should take this opportunity to review how they deal with holiday pay for these groups of workers and consider any amendments required to their processes to give effect to these changes when they come into force.

We will provide timely updates on any additional developments relating to this issue and can also work with you to discuss how you may be affected, liaising with our colleagues in VWV if required.

For more information, please contact Caitlin Anniss in our team on 07909 683 938.