Tag Archive for: Employees

Home | Employees

With planned strike action in England and Wales in the coming months, many working parents and carers will face challenges with childcare provisions. How can employers support their affected employees?

Union members are not required to share their intention to strike in advance, so it is very challenging for schools to anticipate the impact on their staffing levels and attempt to source adequate cover.

While the impact within early years settings is hoped to be less significant than within schools, some may also need to close as a result of employee absence. For some employees, particularly those with young children, it may not be possible to continue to work at all if their childcare provider or school is closed and they have no alternative support. 

How Can Employers Support?

During the pandemic, employers had to think creatively about how some employees could continue to work whilst juggling childcare responsibilities. Now is a good time for managers and working parents to revisit these contingency plans. This might include flexibility on when they work, for example, working during the evenings or swapping a working day, or temporary home working.

It may help to start the conversation early, reminding parents of local strike action dates. Some may have support with childcare available from family members, which may enable them to continue to work. For others, there may not be a ‘Plan B’ so it is important to be clear on how absence will be managed on these dates.

The following types of leave can be considered:

  • Annual leave – If the employee has sufficient annual leave, they may wish to request this according to your policy. However, it’s important to remember that annual leave is limited and if there are a significant number of days where strike action will disrupt their childcare provision they may be left with minimal annual leave to take holidays later in the year.
  • Taking time off for dependents – In most cases this is unlikely to be appropriate as the strike dates have been communicated some way in advance. However, employees have a right to absence to care for dependents where their care has broken down unexpectedly. The statutory right is to unpaid leave in these circumstances, although some organisations have now chosen to provide pay in support of working parents/carers.
  • Time off in lieu (TOIL) – Where an employee has worked a number of additional hours without pay, you may allow them to take this time ‘back’ as TOIL. As an employer, you may already have a policy on how TOIL is managed in your organisation and employees would need to follow the requirements for recording and requesting this leave.
  • Parental leave – Employees have a right to request unpaid parental leave up to a maximum of 18 weeks in total, before the child’s 18th birthday. Ordinarily, 21 days’ notice of the intention to take parental leave is required and it is usually taken in blocks of one week. Where only one day is required, this is recorded as a full week of the entitlement.
  • Unpaid leave – A final option to consider is to allow parents or carers to request unpaid leave. You may have a policy regarding unpaid leave that needs to be followed. 

We would encourage employers to be as flexible as possible. Working parents or carers may find this situation particularly stressful and disruptive both at work and at home. You may wish to remind your employees of any workplace sources of support that you offer, for example, via an Employee Assistance Programme.

For support on how you can best support your working parents and carers during the teacher strikes, or how to navigate more complex situations, please contact Kathryn Chidzey-Jones in our team on 07881 092524.

Home | Employees

Tune in to our free virtual HR club webinar – Neurodiversity in the workplace

Date: Thursday 9 February 2023

Time: 9.00am – 10.00am

SpeakersHelen CouchmanCaitlin Anniss & Jonathan Harper

In this session Narrow Quay HR’s Helen Couchman will talk you through what neurodiversity is and provide best practice tips on how to effectively support neurodivergent workers and ensure that your workplace is an environment where such workers feel welcomed and well catered for. We are delighted to be welcoming Jonathan Harper from Bristol based charity Paraorchestra who will share his experiences of supporting neurodiverse people in the workplace.

If you would like to email your questions beforehand, please contact our Events team.​

Home | Employees

The Bank of England’s warning of a ‘sharp economic slowdown’ has sparked further fears that the UK could be plunged into recession.

The Government’s announcement of a review into how it can best support a thriving future UK labour market is welcome news, but with the two stage review taking place over spring and summer, will that support come quick enough?

As the UK continues to see a contraction across all sectors of the economy, we consider what steps employers should take regarding its staffing, to deal with the impact of a downturn.

Review Future Plans

It is important to look ahead to commitments you’ve made to establish if they are critical, and if they are, whether or not they can be deferred until you have some certainty.

For your employees this might mean reviewing training activities to ensure future relevance, and staffing plans, considering whether a recruitment freeze is an option.

Employers do need to ensure though that they consider how they will not only weather a recession but also respond in the aftermath – halting all training and recruitment may mean you’re not skilled and fully resourced to respond to future challenges.

Talk to Your Employees

It’s a balancing act for employers to ensure they keep employees appropriately updated on business plans, but without creating alarm and seeing your key staff jump ship. Key to this is relevant and meaningful communication.

You may not have all the answers or any fully formed plans, but communicating that it is on your radar and that you will share information when you can will help to gain trust and provide reassurance. It may encourage employees to review and consider their personal circumstances and avoid over committing. It can also provide clarity if you do decide to take steps such as putting training or recruitment on hold, avoiding your staff feeling even more frustrated and concerned. 

Follow a Fair Process

In the unfortunate event that redundancies are necessary, ensure that you follow a fair process to facilitate genuine and meaningful consultation that is sensitive and respectful to those affected. If you’ve communicated about your business plans appropriately, it should help staff to see this response is less of a knee-jerk reaction.

You need to prepare in order to run a process smoothly – use the time now to get clarity on your staffing numbers and commitments, making sure to consider all staff who may need to be involved such as fixed term contractors and temporary staff. 

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

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National Employee Appreciation Day falls on 4 March 2022. The day provides an opportunity for employers to celebrate their employees and express gratitude for their hard work and contributions.

Actively recognising the contributions of your employees can help improve staff morale and ultimately, staff retention rates. In addition, it is also an effective way of helping employees feel valued by acknowledging that their work is appreciated in the business. 

The day can also be used as a good opportunity to check in on employee well-being. Taking the time to engage with staff in an open and genuine way can help employers find out what they can do to support their staff and if there are any new practices they can adopt to address employee concerns.

In light of the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on employees, employers should take any opportunity they can to help improve staff wellbeing. Whether it is an extra hour for lunch, a communal coffee break or time out to pursue a hobby, taking part in National Employee Appreciation Day can be a great way of improving employee / employer relations. 

For more ideas of how you can support your employees, read our previous articles for our top tips for supporting employee health and wellbeing, and how to best support employee mental health.

For support with managing and improving employee appreciation and relations, please contact Helen Couchman in our team on 07799 901 669.

Home | Employees

A study published by ACAS last year shows that over half of employers in Great Britain expect an increase in demand for flexible working from employees after the coronavirus pandemic.

Hybrid working is a type of flexible working where an employee splits their time between the workplace and working remotely. 

How Should Organisations Implement a Hybrid Working Approach?

There is no single way to implement hybrid working in the workplace, as no single organisation is identical to another. However, all organisations may wish to consider the following suggestions by CIPD when implementing a hybrid working strategy.

Our Recommendations for Employers

  • Agree an overall strategic position on hybrid working for the organisation. This should culminate in the development of a policy and supporting guidance to clarify the strategy.
  • Consider what approach to hybrid working is really required within your workplace and the specific organisational context. This might include several different forms of hybrid working even within one organisation, depending on role requirements.
  • Engage with people managers throughout the organisation. This helps employees become part of the conversation and provides an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns.
  • Offer training and development to support successful hybrid working.
  • Develop a communication plan to share plans for future hybrid working with all employees, including information on how to request hybrid working.
  • Consider and adapt to issues arising from hybrid working such as technology, employee wellbeing, inclusion and facilities matters.
  • Support effective team building and cohesion within hybrid teams.

It is likely that employers will have to deal with an increasing number of flexible working requests from employees in the coming months. Having a clear policy, suitable training and support as well as clarity on the organisational approach will stand all companies and employers in good stead in 2022.

If you would like help with any matters or concerns relating to hybrid working please contact Helen Couchman in our team on 07799 901669.

Home | Employees

The effects of COVID-19 on your workforce may have been far reaching with the consequences not yet fully known. Such effects have no doubt been compounded by Brexit – so much so, that in many cases it may be difficult to conclude whether it’s COVID or Brexit that is responsible.

One thing we can be sure of, is that there is a lot of uncertainty in the workplace right now.

While the Government’s furlough scheme helped to prevent redundancies across various industries, the ending of the scheme in September 2021 left some businesses still having to make difficult decisions. Lack of certainty can very quickly lead to unmotivated employees and for this reason, it is important to foster a positive working environment where staff don’t feel ignored or unseen.

One of the ways you can create this environment, is to ensure your workers feel involved in your decision making, and able to contribute to the success of your business. Recognition and appreciation of peoples’ achievements really does go a long way, as does extending trust to your employees so that they feel empowered.

The easiest way to do this is to talk to your employees one to one. Determine their short term goals, and come up with a plan together as to how they can achieve these.

Showing empathy and support is also key. Whether or not your employees are voicing their concerns, management should take an active role in showing understanding for the impact uncertainty may be having on individuals.

For further advice on how to support your employees at work, please contact Sarah Martin on 07799 136091.

Home | Employees

In order to ease pressure on GPs during the roll-out of the COVID-19 booster programme there has been a temporary adjustment to self-certification rules.

Normally an employee can self-certify their sickness for up to seven consecutive days, at which point they would need a note from their GP for any additional sickness absence.

However, from 10 December 2021 to 26 January 2022 (inclusive), employees will not be required to provide medical evidence of their incapacity to work for the first 28 days of any period of sickness absence in order to quality for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

It is important to note that where there are concerns about the length or frequency of an employee’s sickness absence, employers should seek occupational health and/or expert medical opinions as they normally would. The process of obtaining expert medical advice on an employee’s health does not have to be delayed merely due to the Regulations.

Likewise, if there are any concerns about whether an employee is genuinely unwell during a period of sickness absence, these can be investigated in the normal way whenever is appropriate.

For support with sickness absence concerns, please contact Helen Couchman on 07799 901669.