HR Consultants Caitlin Anniss and Sarah Martin discuss the support Narrow Quay HR can provide with disciplinary, grievance and appeal panels.

In this podcast, we discuss:

  • What is panel support?
  • Why might panel support be needed?
  • How we can support smaller businesses and larger organisations
  • How to decide if panel support would be beneficial to you 

How Can We Help?

Our specialist HR consultants can help your organisation by:

  • providing support with your day to day HR issues
  • auditing your HR policies and procedures to identify problems and suggest improvements
  • training for your staff
  • practical support with consultations and other HR projects
  • carrying out investigations into grievances, disciplinaries and other matters

Related Resources

If you require specialist HR support, please contact HR Consultant Caitlin Anniss on 07909 683938 or Sarah Martin on 07799 136091.

As we tweeted last week, the Chancellor has announced a new Job Support Scheme (JSS), which will take over from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) when it closes at the end of October. The stated intention of the JSS is to protect viable jobs where businesses are continuing to face a lower than usual demand.

HM Treasury have now produced a factsheet setting out some further details about the ‘caps and caveats’ that will apply to this new scheme.

Key Facts

  • The JSS will open on 1 November 2020 and will run for six months, with employers being able to claim online through gov.uk site from December.
  • The JSS is not limited only to those employees that have previously used the CJRS, BUT employees must be on PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020.
  • Aimed at SMEs – ‘large’ businesses (not yet defined) will have to meet a financial assessment test demonstrating the drop in income as a result of the pandemic.
  • Employees must work at least 33% of their usual hours.
  • For every hour not worked, the Government and employer pay 1/3 each.
  • Government contribution is capped at £697.92 per month.
  • JSS will not cover Class 1 NIC’s or pension contributions – which remain payable by the employer.
  • Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period that the grant is being claimed.
  • Employees must agree the new working arrangements and changes to the employment contract must be notified in writing.

The factsheet sets out a useful example of how the new scheme will work in terms of possible government grant. It clearly demonstrates that the employer will take on much more of the cost than is currently the case under the CJRS.

Hours Employee Worked33%40%50%60%70%
Hours Employee Not Working67%60%50%40%30%
Employee Earnings (% of normal)78%80%83%87%90%
Gov’t Grant (% of normal wages)22%20%17%13%10%
Employer Cost (% normal wages)55%60%67% 73%80%

Employers will need to have confidence that their business will recover sufficiently from next spring in order to cover the increased cost of retaining staff. For many businesses, there remains too much uncertainty about future viability to warrant this additional financial burden and redundancies are likely to remain inevitable.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any of our team for practical support and guidance through any restructuring process. Here’s how we can help.

Narrow Quay HR runs a series of HR Clubs throughout the year and the most recent is summarised in this article. If readers want to sign up to the next session, the link is set out below. 

Narrow Quay is an HR consultancy, which is part of the VWV group.

The latest Narrow Quay HR Club looked at ‘How Organisations Can Thrive in the New Normal’ with guest speaker, business performance psychologist Graham Mitchell discussing the vital role that employee engagement has to play, in order to build back up organisational performance in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on workplaces. 

Narrow Quay HR – Caitlin Anniss

Caitlin Anniss from Narrow Quay HR opened the event by reflecting on the current position and the continuing impact of COVID-19, reminding us that in early Spring, it was clear that something called COVID-19 was going to have an impact on our daily lives and it was on 23 March 2020 the nation went into lockdown shortly before the furlough scheme was announced on 26 March, entitling eligible employees to be furloughed from work and receive 80% of their earnings. 

Whilst Caitlin described the gradual easing of restrictions throughout July and August, she referenced the huge logistical challenges faced by employers in achieving a COVID-19 safe return to the workplace, alongside the additional concerns such as employees who are shielding, those who can’t work their full hours because of childcare issues and quarantine arrangements when returning from a number of countries. She referred to the CIPD’s helpful guidance to employers on the issue of employees returning to workplaces; is it essential that staff return to work? Is it safe? Is it mutually agreed?

Narrow Quay HR has been working with clients throughout the lockdown period and beyond as they try to work out the best options for their businesses, whether that was utilising the furlough scheme or working out how to get their staff back into workplaces safely and, more recently, working with organisations who are having to reorganise or consider redundancies. Caitlin mentioned that many businesses are reviewing how they work given the changes they have had to make, and considering newer, more flexible ways of working which may benefit both them and their staff. The Government’s change of position on employees returning to the workplace will no doubt produce further conversations.

It is clear now that the impact of COVID-19 is not going to be short-lived and neatly tied up within a matter of months as we first hoped. We are having to continue to learn to live with the impact of the pandemic in both our personal lives and our working lives.

Guest Speaker – Graham Mitchell

Graham started off by looking at two key areas – what employee engagement actually is and then considering the wide ranging impact and benefit of engagement. Graham’s stressed the importance of harnessing employee’s ‘discretionary effort’, often thought of as ‘going the extra mile’ or moving from ‘what I have to give you’ to ‘all I have to give you’.

Graham was clear that it was important for organisations to ensure that all employees were walking that extra mile in the same direction towards organisational objectives. This ensures an increase in overall performance at an organisational level, which is particularly relevant right now as businesses seek to build back financial performance.

Four ‘Pillars’ of Effective Engagement

Graham discussed the four ‘pillars’ of effective engagement being:

  1. Vision and strategy – discussing the importance of having a clear vision and a sound strategy.
  2. Engaging leaders – taking the time to let staff know how they fit into the bigger picture.
  3. Stakeholder ‘voice’ – not only communicating effectively in relation to steps taken, but also taking the time to explain why decisions have been made not to take certain steps.
  4. Cultural integrity – the importance of an organisation that keeps its promises and lives up to its own cultural values.

Helpfully, Graham provided sustainable strategies and practical guidance to ‘align the arrowhead’ to ensure all the people within an organisation were aligned to the same purpose, underlying the importance of everyone moving in the same direction towards the desired organisational outcomes. 

It was notable that both Gareth Edwards and Graham were of a similar mind in terms of the importance of clearly communicating the reasons behind a business need to embark on a restructuring/redundancy exercise. Graham additionally underlined the importance of maintaining the last of the four pillars, cultural integrity, during a restructuring process, stressing the importance of communicating the purpose behind the decision.

Considered a Staff Engagement Survey?

Well now might be a good time to conduct a survey with your staff. This will give you a clear view of where the organisation is right now, with no doubt many employees continuing to work remotely for the foreseeable future and place a spotlight on the areas that you need to focus on.

Narrow Quay HR would like to thank Graham Mitchell for taking the time to share his experience and expertise. If you would like to discuss anything further with Graham, please do visit his website.

Upcoming Online Events

For HR support for your organisation, please contact Caitlin Anniss on 07909 683 938.

HR Consultant, Sarah Martin, discusses how Narrow Quay HR can support smaller businesses and SMEs through redundancy process involving less than 20 redundancies


 In this podcast, we discuss:

  • planning
  • getting into the correct mindset
  • what areas we can support with

How Can We Help?

Our specialist HR consultants can help your organisation by:

  • providing support with your day to day HR issues
  • auditing your HR policies and procedures to identify problems and suggest improvements
  • training for your staff
  • practical support with consultations and other HR projects
  • carrying out investigations into grievances, disciplinaries and other matters

Related Resources

If you require specialist HR support relating to workplace investigations, please contact HR Consultant Sarah Martin on 07799 136091.

HR Consultant, Simon Martin, discusses the support Narrow Quay HR can offer to organisations going through a redundancy process, including those dealing with a collective consultation process.


 In this podcast, we discuss:

  • what constitutes a collective consultation process?
  • support we can provide throughout the process

How Can We Help?

Our specialist HR consultants can help your organisation by:

  • providing support with your day to day HR issues
  • auditing your HR policies and procedures to identify problems and suggest improvements
  • training for your staff
  • practical support with consultations and other HR projects
  • carrying out investigations into grievances, disciplinaries and other matters

Related Resources

If you require specialist HR support relating to workplace investigations, please contact HR Consultant Simon Martin on 07384 81376.

Between us, the team at Narrow Quay has decades of experience of advising on and supporting organisations going through redundancy processes.

In the current economic climate we are increasingly being called on for assistance and I wanted to share with you how we can assist your organisation in these difficult times.

Alongside this blog, we have put together a couple of podcasts discussing the sort of things you should be considering when you are contemplating making some redundancies, one aimed at small-to medium-sized businesses and one aimed at larger organisations and we recommend you listen to these too.

If you decide to go ahead with making redundancies then we can support you at every stage. Based on our experience in assisting employers with redundancy processes, we have found that the following options are the ones that employers want. Depending on whether or not you have any existing HR resource, or the size and experience of your in-house HR team, you may want assistance with some or all of the following. We are happy to discuss them with you and provide bespoke cost estimates.

Support with a Redundancy Process

  • Individual consultation meeting support: A fair redundancy procedure always involves a need to consult individually, regardless of whether you are also obliged to collectively consult with your staff (more on this below).We can support you with those individual consultation meetings. We can either conduct the individual meetings for you, meeting with staff virtually or in person, or, alternatively we can provide a support role and attend the meetings alongside someone from your organisation. If we are attending with someone then our role is to chiefly assist with guidance on the process that needs to be followed.
  • Calculating entitlements: We can assist with calculation of statutory redundancy payments, notice and holiday pay.
  • Preparing the documentation: We can prepare timelines, scripts for all the meetings, take notes of the individual and collective consultation meetings and draft letters to send to the affected employees before and after their consultation meetings.
  • HR support: We can provide HR support throughout the consultation process, being a point of contact, answering any questions, helping to keep the process on track, identifying if any legal support is needed and generally being your HR support and sounding board.

Larger-Scale Redundancies with Collective Consultation

If you are proposing to dismiss 20 or more employees in a 90-day period, you will need to run a collective consultation process as part of your redundancy exercise.

In addition to the above, we can also assist with the following:

  • Appointing employee representatives: If you need to elect employee representatives, we can draft the necessary communications to go out to staff to take you through the election process and can assist with any queries which arise out of this process.
  • Training: We can provide training for employee representatives, taking them through the requirements of the role and the process to be followed in a consultation. We can also provide a similar session for managers if required.
  • Timetabling: We can assist with setting up the consultation process, including helping to prepare a timetable, drafting the communications to employee representatives and generally keeping the process on track.
  • Collective consultation meeting support: We can attend both face-to-face and/or virtual collective consultation meetings to provide HR support and guidance. We can take a note of what is said at the collective consultation meetings. We can also work with you to prepare a Q&A document based on the questions that have been raised and circulate that to the employee representatives.

This is a short guide to outline the help that Narrow Quay HR can offer if you are undergoing a redundancy consultation process.

Related Resources

If you would like to explore the support we can offer in more detail please contact Simon Martin on 07384 813 076, Sarah Martin on 07799 136091, or Caitlin Anniss on 07909 683938.

You might be thinking about using an external provider to carry out an investigation into an employment issue that has arisen. This might be because your internal resource doesn’t have enough time, or perhaps they have been involved in the issues that need to be investigated.

Alternatively, you might not have anyone in your organisation who has the skillset to carry out the investigation if the issues are complex.

The organisations that call us in typically have a dispute that needs to be resolved. At Narrow Quay HR, we help organisations get to the root of workplace disputes by conducting complex and sensitive investigations on their behalf. We cover areas such as disciplinary allegations, employee grievances, bullying and harassment, allegations of discrimination, whistle-blowing, employee fraud, and breakdowns in trust and confidence at board level.

So What Do We Do When You Instruct Us?

The first step is for us to let you know how much we think it is going to cost. We generally tend to charge per day so once we’ve taken some initial information from you we will let you know how many days we think it will take us to conduct the investigation and provide you with an investigation report. We’ll break it down so you can see what’s involved and how the time will be spent.

Once you’ve given us the go ahead, we’ll work with you to prepare the Terms of Reference. These set out the areas that we are asked to look into. It is often the case that our clients will take legal advice about the Terms of Reference. Preparing the Terms of Reference is an important stage because it tells us what we are investigating, and sometimes what we are specifically not being asked to investigate.

For instance, sometimes an employee may have raised a previous grievance or there may have been a previous disciplinary or capability matter they were not happy about. The employer will therefore not want us to deal with that because it has already been looked into. It is sometimes the case that during the investigation other matters crop up and we will always go back to the client to establish whether they want us to also investigate those matters.

What is also usually included in the Terms of Reference is the list of the people that we have been asked to interview. We’ll look at how we carry out the interviews below but in terms of interviewees, again this is sometimes something that changes during the investigation.

I recently interviewed someone who was accused of bullying. When I interviewed them they and their union representative named 15 additional people they said I needed to interview. When that happens, we need to take a view about the best approach to take. We need to be proportionate in how we proceed, we need to weigh up the relevance of the evidence to the matters we have been asked to investigate. We also need to consider questions like ‘are we likely to get several people telling us the same thing?’ We also need to think about the effect that carrying out any additional interviews will have on the time the investigation will take.

So, We Have Received the Terms of Reference, What Next?

We will usually be sent the relevant documents, so for example in the case of an investigation into a grievance we will be sent the grievance letter and the supporting documents. It’s also important for us to review the policy under which we are carrying out the investigation. This document will for instance say whether people can be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative in the investigation. The basic position is that there is no right to be accompanied at an investigation meeting but sometimes, particularly with public sector employers, there is that right included in their policy.

Having read the background documents and policies, we will then set up the interviews. When dealing with a grievance, we will try to interview the complainant first as it is important to fully understand the nature of the complaint or dispute. Experience says that the complainant tends to expand on what is included in the initial documents.

When we do the interviews, we don’t tend to record them. We take notes of the interview and after the interview send them to the interviewee to check, amend and approve. It’s often the case that the people we interview will send us further documents, which we will consider and add to the documentary evidence.

When we have interviewed everyone, we will then prepare our investigation report. We will set out the key elements of the Terms of Reference, the process we followed, then analyse the evidence we have received and set out our findings, conclusions. If we have been asked to do so then we also set out our recommendations. We will add as appendices to the report the notes of the interviews we have carried out and the documentary evidence we have collected.

It’s important to remind ourselves what our role is in investigations – we are fact gathering. We don’t make any decisions, although we may make recommendations.

What Does That Mean?

In a disciplinary matter, our role is to gather all the evidence and then at most we would recommend whether, based on the evidence we have seen, that we think it would merit being heard in a disciplinary hearing. We will never make recommendations about the level of warning for instance as that would be to overstep our remit.

Our approach is to take a balanced, objective approach and set out our thought processes, refer to the key evidence and then how we have arrived at our findings and conclusions which we arrived at on the balance of probabilities.

At Narrow Quay HR, we are all former employment lawyers with over 70 years’ experience between us. We understand how employment law requires investigations to be carried out properly and that informs our approach. I have acted for a number of employers over the years in Employment Tribunals and have been doing the advocacy when Employment Judges have spent a lot of time dissecting the investigations that were carried out. I have used that experience to inform my approach when conducting the investigation.

Our aim is to make our reports speak for themselves, so that the key evidence is referred to and our findings, conclusions and recommendations are clear. What that means is that it is very unusual for us to need to attend any subsequent grievance or disciplinary hearing for example.

I hope that gives you an idea of what we do and how we do it. Of course if you need any more details please contact Simon Martin on 07384 813 076, Sarah Martin on 07799 136091, or Caitlin Anniss on 07909 683938.

Unconscious bias can have implications on decision making. We discuss how to mitigate this to create an inclusive working environment.

In this podcast, we discuss:

  • What is unconscious bias and where does it come from?
  • Why is it relevant in the workplace?
  • Examples of how it can effect decision making for HR teams
  • Steps you can take to create a fair and inclusive work environment

How Can We Help?

Our specialist HR consultants can help your organisation by:

  • providing support with your day to day HR issues
  • auditing your HR policies and procedure to identify problems and suggest improvements
  • training for your staff
  • practical support with consultations and other HR projects
  • carrying out investigations into grievances, disciplinaries and other matters

Related Resources

If you require specialist HR support relating to workplace investigations, please contact HR Consultants Sarah Martin on 07799 136091 or Jo Hill on 07392 085778.

We consider the challenges of carrying out a workplace investigation remotely during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In our podcast, we discuss:

  • Planning for a virtual workplace investigation
  • Practical steps to consider 
  • What to do if an employee refuses to participate
  • Can furloughed staff participate?

How Can We Help?

Our specialist HR consultants can help your organisation by:

  • providing support with your day to day HR issues
  • auditing your HR policies and procedure to identify problems and suggest improvements
  • training for your staff
  • practical support with consultations and other HR projects
  • carrying out investigations into grievances, disciplinaries and other matters

Related Resources

If you require specialist legal advice relating to carrying out workplace investigations remotely, please contact HR Consultants Caitlin Anniss on 07909 683938 or Sarah Martin on 07799 136091.

We discuss the importance of effective consultation and how to correctly consult staff remotely, in our first Narrow Quay HR club webinar.

Included in this webinar:

  • Why are consultations needed?
  • Effective consultation
  • Individual and collective consultations
  • Consulting with staff remotely

How Can We Help?

Our specialist HR consultants can help your organisation by:

  • providing support with your day to day HR issues
  • auditing your HR policies and procedure to identify problems and suggest improvements
  • training for your staff
  • practical support with consultations and other HR projects
  • carrying out investigations into grievances, disciplinaries and other matters

Related Resources

If you require support with consulting your staff, please contact Caitlin Anniss on 07799 136 091 or Jessica Scott-Dye in the VWV Employment Law team on 07799 901 428.