What annoys you at work?

Research has revealed the main causes of office disputes, with gossiping colleagues coming top of the list. 34% of office workers cited gossiping about co-worers and management as the leading reason for arguments and disruption in the office. 31% ranked loud colleagues as the main factor in arguments followed by messy workers (27%), theft (26%) and lateness (26%).

The report asked 1,500 employees what annoyed them and found that sandwiches and mugs being stolen was actually more infuriating for office workers than colleagues being unfairly promoted.

Managers have a responsibility to manage office disputes and these should be resolved before they become a full blown argument. Policies stipulating intolerance of issues such as “fridge theft” should be clear to all staff!

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Get ready for the Christmas holiday

Christmas holidays can be a headache – the Christmas season has an impact on most businesses and employees in the UK. There is often extra demand for products, services and sales in some businesses.

Many employees will request time off. Employees working over the Christmas period may experience different working patterns or face difficulties getting to and from work. It’s also a period when some businesses might need extra support and will take on seasonal workers.

This year, Christmas Day (25 December 2017) falls on a Monday, boxing day (26 December 2017) falls on a Tuesday, which means these two days will be Bank Holidays. There is no right to have either day away from work or taken as paid time off unless terms of the employment contract allow otherwise. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of statutory annual leave.

There is no legal right to paid leave for public holidays. Any right to paid time off for these holidays depends on the terms of a worker’s contract. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory 5.6 weeks of holiday.

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Protect your business from data leakage!

Protect your business from data leakage!
One in four UK employees have intentionally leaked confidential business information to individuals outside their organisations, new research has revealed.

In a survey of 2,000 UK workers, it was found that employees who leaked information were most likely to share data with competitors, or new or former employers. Half of all survey respondents said they had deleted, or would delete, emails from their sent folder if they had sent information somewhere they shouldn’t.
Employers should be conscious of data protection clauses in employee contracts, and aware of the data risks former employees could pose if guidelines are not explicitly included.

If an employee is still employed within their organisation, even if nothing is written in a contract of employment, they are under a legal obligation to not disclose confidential information. However, once employment has ended, if there is no clause in the contract, only trade-secret information would be protected – and there is no long-term obligation to keep company information confidential. Well-drafted contracts are therefore vital, because they protect employers once a contract has ended.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation, due to come into force in May 2018, organisations will need to disclose data breaches to the appropriate authorities within 72 hours. If the breach poses a high degree of risk to the rights of the individuals concerned, the business will need to inform the people affected as well.

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Is your workplace doing enough to prevent unwanted and inappropriate behaviour?

The hashtags #MeToo and #MenToo are still doing the rounds on social media in response to the Harvey Weinstein controversy. Thousands of women and men have spoken out about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, many related to the workplace, demonstrating how widespread the problem is across all types of professions and industries.

Much of the improper behaviour alleged has been unlawful in the workplace for many years. It Anything done by an employee in the course of their employment is treated as being done by the employer – the employer can be held to be liable for an act of harassment by one employee against another.

The Equality Act 2010 provides that the following forms of harassment are unlawful:

• unwanted conduct related to sex or conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of violating that person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them; and
• less favourable treatment because the employee has rejected or submitted to such conduct.
In considering the ‘effect’ of the conduct, an employment tribunal will take into account the following:

• the employee’s perception of the conduct;
• the circumstances of the case; and
• whether it is reasonable for that conduct to have that effect on the individual

Employers should note that a single incident can be sufficient to constitute harassment. If the conduct is serious enough to be reasonably considered as harassment, there may be no need for the victim to have already made it clear that the conduct is unwarranted.

Employers are expected to demonstrate that they have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent such conduct such as:

• training for employees and managers on appropriate behaviour at work
• having an equal opportunities policy and a dignity at work policy;
• regularly reviewing and updating those policies;
• ensuring employees know how to raise issues – informally and formally – perhaps by providing a confidential reporting line;
• making sure that steps are taken to address complaints promptly; and
• taking disciplinary action where appropriate.

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Are your own ‘monsters’ keeping you awake at night?

As we have seen in the long awaited ‘John Lewis’ Christmas advert, our sleep can often be affected by lots of different things, in fact recent research has found that those with HR responsibility are most likely to be kept awake at night.

Stresses of the job, misconduct, retention and recruitment dificulties are all contributory factors to lack of sleep and this can have a knock on effect on your working life.

121 HR Solutions can help! – we provide employers of all sizes with professional, cost effective Human Resource Support on an ongoing or project support basis – contact us on 0800 9995 121 or enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

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Are you ready for GPDR?

The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is expected to cause significant difficulties for businesses, as they look to make changes to come into line with the new rules.

The GDPR will amend current data protection laws to make sure that they are fit for purpose, especially in the modern digital age. Under the current UK Data Protection Act 1998, anyone can request the information that organisations have about them. The new legislation will mean that organisations will have to respond to subject access requests, or SARs, much quicker than before. Under the current UK Data Protection Act 1998, employers have 40 days to respond to a request and could charge a fee of £10. But when the new rules come into effect in 2018, employers will have to comply with an SAR within one month and will not be able to charge any fees.

Employers who do not meet the deadline, or fail to provide all the information requested, could face a fine. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can currently hand out fines of up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the DPA.

Organisations must also provide information about the type of data they hold about the person, who they have shared the data with and what the purposes of their processing is.

Employers will also have to appoint a dedicated data protection officer if they handle a large amount of sensitive data or monitoring the behaviour of a large number of consumers. Under GDPR, businesses will have to keep track of personal data in ways that can be audited and provide notification of breaches within 72 hours.

Employers must put in place a specific process to handle SARs under the new rules and produce standard wording that provides the additional information they are required to disclose alongside the requested data.

Businesses will also need to make sure that their systems are managed in such a way that data can be retrieved as quickly as possible. Staff should be appropriately trained to identify when a request constitutes an SAR and that SAR requests are passed immediately to those tasked with managing responses.

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Should Internships be Paid?

An attempt in Parliament to ban unpaid internships was blocked last November but new research by the Social Mobility Commission suggests there is strong public support for the bill.

Three quarters of the 5,000 people surveyed said they backed a ban on unpaid internships lasting four weeks or more. Many interns already fall under the legal definition of a “worker”, a person who has a contract or arrangement to do work, and are entitled to the national minimum wage.

But Lord Holmes of Richmond said existing laws were clearly not working, given that more and more professions and trades were requiring unpaid work experience when it comes to securing a job.

In April, a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research found the number of internships had risen by 50% since 2010. Research by the Sutton Trust, which works to improve social mobility, found nearly a third of graduate interns are unpaid. It estimated a six month unpaid internship in London would cost someone £5,556.

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Judge finds company failed to make reasonable adjustments for disability

A diabetic security guard who left his job after a hypoglycemic attack has won his tribunal claim.

The Employment Tribunal heard that a seasonal security guard was employed on a zero-hours contract, but typically worked 53 hours a week. The site where the guard was placed had very little telephone reception and a six-foot gate that could not be unlocked from the outside. During a shift he suffered a hypoglycemic attack, brought on by low blood sugar, while he was in his car waiting for the site’s contractor to relieve him from his shift. He fell asleep and was woken up by a knock on the car window, after which he unstably walked towards the gate.

During the time that he had been unwell in the car, one of company’s directors received a call telling him that contractors were unable to gain access to the site because the guard was disoriented and they were unable to catch his attention.
After instructing the caller to call an ambulance, the director then drove to the site himself. However, by the time he arrived, the ambulance had already attended and the guard had left. He was informed that the guard had suffered a hypoglycemic attack, which was the first the director knew of his diabetes.

A site risk assessment was carried out using information obtained online and it was concluded that reasonable adjustments were not feasible and the site could not be made safer for the guard. He was advised that he could no longer be offered work at the site but that the company was looking for alternatives, such as a front-of-house role or at a site where there would be more than one security officer on duty.

No work was available and the guard asked for his P45 in order that he could seek benefits. The company then received an employment tribunal application citing unfair constructive dismissal and disability discrimination. The judge commented that, whilst it was “reckless” of the employee not to tell the employer of his diabetes, the employer should have gone to greater lengths to establish what reasonable adjustments could be made to support the employee. Yet again, a judgement putting the onus of responsibility to seek reasonable adjustments on the employer rather than the employee.

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Bring back tribunal fees?

The Lord Chancellor has said that his department intends to bring back employment tribunal fees. In July, the Supreme Court decided that employment tribunal fees were unlawful and should be abolished.

However David Lidington pointed out that the judgment did not rule out charging fees entirely. “We still intend to charge fees,” he said. “I think it is necessary as a contribution to costs. It is also necessary and sensible as a deterrent to frivolous or vexatious litigation and that was something the court itself acknowledged. Lidington said he accepted that the government had got the balance wrong on how much it should be charging.

Less than a week ago, the Ministry of Justice launched the first phase of its plans to refund fees to those who had paid them after they were introduced in 2013, which will involve writing to as many as 1,000 individuals who had contacted the government since the judgment. It intends to widen the scheme out to others – including employers that have been ordered to pay costs on behalf of somebody bringing a claim – in November.

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Mental Health at Work

An independent review on how employers can better support the mental health of employees, including those with mental health problems or poor well-being, has been published today.

The review warned that 300,000 people lose their job every year because of long-term mental health problems. Figures cited in the report also revealed that around 15% of people currently at work have symptoms of existing mental health problems.

In many workplaces, mental health is still a taboo subject and that opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure employees who may be struggling get the support they need. The Stevenson/Farmer review, which can be found here http://bit.ly/2iC9EvH contains 40 recommendations. They include:-

• all employers should adopt mental health core standards, set out in the report;

• public sector, and private sector employers with over 500 employees, should take additional steps, again set out in the report;

• employers should be encouraged by legislation to report publicly on their workforce’s mental health;

• professional bodies should implement training and support measures for their employer members.

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