What approach would you like to take to support employee wellbeing and mental health in the workplace?

Perhaps you could implement an intranet page which focuses on wellbeing resources, or send out a wellbeing communication to your staff with resources they may wish to use to assist them to manage their own mental health.

You may also consider reviewing your employee recognition approach. This could include a peer/peer or manager/peer ‘thank you’ platform where people can get some recognition from their teams. Do you have an employee of the month?

Think about your culture and your benefit offering too and remind employees what is available to them. Your approach to wellbeing should reflect your culture and work environment. Consider what is realistic and would work best for your teams.

We have compiled some available resources that may be useful. These resources can help with your physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing and include details of how we can communicate and show appreciation for each other.


  • Introduce 25 or 55 minute meeting culture to allow for comfort breaks!
  • Introduce the concept of walking meetings where it is acceptable for some internal meetings to take place outside whilst going for a walk, or take a break from the desk by walking whilst talking.
  • Keep the team connected through 1-2-1’s, team meetings, socials.
  • Introduce ‘end of week’ events – Friday socials, going for drink, catch ups with the team.
  • Birthday’s – introduce a virtual team coffee and cake session for team member’s birthdays.
  • Introduce formal switch off sessions. Some companies are introducing weeks where there are less meetings and less emails sent to allow focus time.


  • Introduce ‘thank you Friday’s’ (this could be part of the end of week social).
  • Celebrate Kindness day/week – UK Kindness day is in November.

Physical Wellbeing

  • Set up a group Strava page to share fitness achievements for those that are goal oriented and like a challenge.
  • Walking meetings (as above).
  • Bike2Work Scheme.
  • DSE Guidelines & Working from Home Assessment.
  • Gymshark Training App – The Gymshark Training App brings a new world of training to life, uniting the Gymshark community in one central place. Explore the workout library, train, create your own workouts, your own plans and track your progress. 
  • No more excuses -This is where you take your training to the next level. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lifter, or a HIITer, a beginner, an intermediate or a novice… what you need will be found in this app. They will help to reform your training, track your progress and unlock your potential.
  • 305 Fitness – If you’re a fan of dance workouts then the dance cardio studio is offering free classes on their YouTube page. There are plenty of options for everyone to get involved with, including HIIT cardio and Cardio Party.
  • Blogilates – Blogilates also has a huge YouTube following, offering free pilates and bootcamp sculpting workouts. You can access free monthly calendars workout plans to try on the Blogilates website.

Other Fitness Class Recommendations

We recommend the one and only Body Coach, Joe Wicks, who helped bring the nation together with PE classes for families during the first national lockdown. There are classes available on the Body Coach YouTube.

For those that love Yoga, try Adrienne’s free classes on her YouTube channel Yoga with Adrienne.

Emotional Wellbeing

  • Ensure a healthy work/life balance – offer a flexible working policy.
  • Building Emotional Resilience Workshop – If you would be interested in supporting your employees to manage their own mental health more effectively, Narrow Quay HR can offer in person or online workshops.

There are lots of resources to help with your wellbeing on the BBC, including their mental health toolkit.

Mental Health First Aid England

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England is a fantastic organisation which normally travels up and down the country educating individuals and businesses on different types of mental health illnesses, spotting the early signs and how to provide the right support to individuals who suffer from mental health illnesses.

MHFA England have put together some guidance, along with a lot of helpful resources for ways to support mental health whilst working from home. 

Podcast Recommendations

  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • Feel Better, Live More
  • Under the Skin – Russell Brand
  • A bit of Optimism – Simon Sinek
  • Juliette Burton’s Positive Mental Attitude podcast
  • The XpertHR Podcast (UK)

For further guidance on how you can support your employees health and wellbeing, please contact Helen Couchman on 07799 901669.

HR and employment

From 1 July 2021, employers will need to follow a new process when completing right to work checks on EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens.

As has been well publicised, 30 June 2021 is the deadline for applications by EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). Once the deadline for applications to the EUSS has passed, employers will no longer be able to accept passports and national identity cards held by EU, EEA and Swiss citizens as proof of their right to work in the UK. Instead, citizens of those countries (and their family members) will need to prove to employers that they have been granted status under the EUSS or another immigration category before they can commence work. The details of these changes have now been published in a new government Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working, due to come into force on 1 July 2021.

As a reminder, it is best practice for employers to conduct right to work checks on every individual employed. Employers may be liable for civil penalties of up to £20,000 for each employee who does not have the right to work in the UK and where correct checks were not undertaken.

Online Right to Work Checks Become Crucial

Most people granted status under the EUSS will not have any form of physical documentation proving their status but will instead need to access and prove their immigration status online. In addition, most EU, EEA and Swiss nationals granted immigration status under the points-based immigration system will also be issued digital status instead of physical documents. As a result, the new Code of Practice places far greater emphasis on conducting online checks. Indeed, the Code of Practice make a point of advising employers that they must not discriminate against employees and prospective employees who can only prove their right to work digitally.

To carry out an online right to work check, an employer needs the applicant’s date of birth and their “share code”, which they will have obtained online. The employer then completes the check online by visiting GOV.uk.

Checks on physical documents still need to be completed for UK and Irish nationals (who can use their passport as proof of right to work) and for individuals in the UK who do not hold a digital immigration status.

What Physical Documents Should Employers Accept?

In terms of substantive changes to the list of physical documents employers can accept from employees to establish a statutory excuse, passports or ID cards of EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens can no longer be accepted as valid proof of right to work from 1 July 2021. Additionally, various other documents confirming status under the EU’s free movement rules will no longer be acceptable.

The following documents are new to the list though and can be accepted by employers from 1 July:

  • Irish passport or passport card
  • Frontier Worker Permit
  • Documents issued by the Crown Dependencies EU Settlement Schemes, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service
  • Certificate of Application or document issued by the UK, Jersey or Guernsey EU Settlement Schemes, confirming an application made by the 30 June deadline, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service

What Steps Should Employers Take?

Employers are reminded that there is no requirement to undertake retrospective checks on EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens who entered their employment before 1 July 2021. Employers will maintain a continuous statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty if the initial checks were undertaken in line with legislation and guidance.

However, with less than three weeks until these changes come into effect employers should carry out an urgent review of their recruitment practices and policies to ensure that they reflect the changes to the Code of Practice. Colleagues responsible for conducting checks will need to be updated on what documents will be acceptable from 1 July 2021.

For more advice on right to work checks or for details of our policy for employers on preventing illegal working, please contact Tom Brett Young in VWV’s Immigration team on 07393 148352.

Narrow Quay HR, the HR consultancy of VWV, was set up on 1 May 2017 and has gone from strength to strength over the past four years.

Initially it was a team of two – Caitlin Anniss and Sarah Martin, both experienced employment lawyers who left the Employment Law team at VWV to set up Narrow Quay HR and work as HR consultants.

The work carried out by Narrow Quay HR complements VWV, with HR support being provided across a range of sectors, including a number of schools and charities. HR solutions and retainers and support are also provided to a wide range of clients, including smaller businesses and charities, some of whom do not have an in house HR function. Narrow Quay HR also provides an HR retainer which sits alongside the established VWV legal retainer for academy clients.

Narrow Quay HR has established particular expertise in carrying out complex workplace investigations and supporting clients with their HR projects – whether that be consultations with staff, reviews of workplace culture or HR support with disciplinary and grievance processes. 

Growth of the Team

2020 was a challenging year for most businesses but against the background of COVID-19 and the restrictions in place, the Narrow Quay HR team continued to grow. The team now stands at six consultants who are a mix of experienced employment lawyers and experienced HR practitioners, giving our clients both the practical HR expertise and the legal grounding.

Our new HR Consultants include:

The team continues to grow with a new team member joining later this month.   

What’s Next?

This financial year Narrow Quay HR have ambitious plans for continued growth, whilst remaining true to the core values of providing excellent quality HR support to clients that is always commercial, creative and pragmatic.

To find out more about the services offered by Narrow Quay HR, please get in touch with one of the team.

It was a busy end to the month and so this summary of our recent HR Club is being posted a little later that we would have liked but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to recap on the event.

It was a great turnout with just under 100 delegates attending to listen to Caitlin Anniss from Narrow Quay HR and Jo Oliver from VWV talking about this topic, which feels particularly poignant and relevant at the moment.

Caitlin provided some really useful context and talked about the fact that even though we have had legislation in place to prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace in place for many years, it persists. In some TUC research from 2016, the findings indicated that half of all women and two thirds of women aged between 18 and 24 had experienced harassment at work. Research in 2017 from the CIPD found that 40% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. She also made the point though that whilst this was an issue predominantly affecting women in the workplace, it did also affect men.

Jo talked us through the legal definitions and conducted some interesting polls in which she provided a set of facts from case law and asked the audience to identify whether sexual harassment had been found to have occurred. Scenarios such a rubbing a colleagues shoulders, playing matchmaker to two work colleagues and making unwanted advance towards a work colleague all got our audience thinking about how to apply the legal framework in practice, albeit some of the case law had provided some surprising results.

Caitlin then talked us through some of the practical steps employers can take to tackle this issue and how to deal with complaints. She explained that whilst having policies in place is essential, employers should, and could, be doing more. Supporting those who speak out, ensuring things are not swept under the carpet when they do occur, providing training to managers who are often an employer’s ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground and addressing any cultural problems all play an important role in tackling the issue.

We were delighted that 90% of delegates rated this event as either excellent or very good and we look forward to welcoming delegates to our next HR Club in June, which will be looking at employee mental health.

For specialist support with tackling sexual harassment in the workplace, please contact Caitlin Anniss on 07909 683938 or Jo Oliver on 07909 547537.

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.