New Statutory Rates for Sick Pay from April 2018

The Government has published the statutory rates for sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay from April 2018.

The rate of statutory sick pay is increasing from £89.35 to £92.05. This increase is expected to occur on 6 April 2018. To be entitled to these statutory payments, the employee’s average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit. The lower earnings limit is increasing from £113 to £116 in April 2018.

The current weekly rate of statutory maternity pay is £140.98, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate.
The rate of statutory maternity pay is rising to £145.18 from April 2018. The increase normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which in 2018 is 1 April.

Also on 1 April 2018, the rates of statutory paternity pay and statutory shared parental pay will go up from £140.98 to £145.18 (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate).

The rate of statutory adoption pay will increase from £140.98 to £145.18.
This means that, from 1 April 2018, statutory adoption pay is payable at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, with the remainder of the adoption pay period at the rate of £145.18, or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is less than £145.18.

The rates normally increase each April in line with the consumer price index (CPI).

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Tightening up on “self employed” status – draft bill

The work and pensions committee and the business select committee has jointly published a report into working practice of so called gig economy workers which states that they face an “unacceptable burden” of having to prove they are workers – rather than self-employed – to access basic employment rights.

There is now in place a “draft bill” recommending that individuals in the gig economy be considered ‘workers by default’, entitling them to employment rights and benefits such as holiday and sick pay. Alternatively, companies will have to prove that their working practices genuinely mirror self-employment.

The bill suggests that the law around the gig economy should be tightened to stop companies using false self-employment status for “cheap labour and tax avoidance”, to prevent the law being used to facilitate workers’ exploitation for competitive advantage.

The bill, which will now be put before the Prime Minister for consideration, is described as a proposal to “end the mass exploitation” of people in the gig economy.

Employment lawyers, however, warned that the bill’s proposal to place the onus of choosing the appropriate employment status on employers could lead to an unfair burden on businesses. If the onus is on the employer to prove self-employed status in any claim, there will need to be careful thought given to deterring vexatious claims.

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Are you dreading your appraisal?

January is often the time that businesses think about appraisals. Do you and your team “dread” appraisals? Here are some top tips to ease the dread and create a valuable and rewarding process:

1. Keep a performance diary
It is important for both managers and employees to note down their achievements, accomplishments and challenges as they occur, when the details are fresh in their minds. Keeping a diary will allow you to refer back and set future goals and objectives.

2. Monitor progress on goals
Managers and employees should review goals on a regular basis. The goals need to remain appropriate and relevant to ensure they can still be achieved. A lot can change throughout a year therefore it is important to ensure both managers and employees are happy with the current goals and what they mean.

3. Provide ongoing coaching and development
Employee development should not be addressed once a year. Development activities should be assigned to employees throughout the year to ensure growth and improvement. Regular meetings between managers and employees will allow these to be evaluated.

4. Communicate the value of ongoing performance management
It is vital to remind employees to make notes on their performance and update the status of their objectives and development activities. This will encourage them to continuously be aware of their personal development.

5. Support managers with the right tools.
Providing leadership training, tools and resources to support managers in providing ongoing coaching and feedback is very important.

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New National Minimum Wage Rates

In the Government’s Autumn budget, it has been confirmed that the national living wage and the national minimum wage will increase in Spring next year.

From April 2018, the national living wage (applicable to workers aged 25 and over) will increase from £7.50 to £7.83.

At the same time, the national minimum wage is set to increase as follows:

• 21 – 24 year olds – the rate will increase from £7.05 to £7.38;
• 18 – 20 year olds – the rate will increase from £5.60 to £5.90;
• 16 – 17 year olds – the rate will increase from £4.05 to £4.20; and
• apprentices – the rate will increase from £3.50 to £3.70.

If you have any questions about the national minimum wage, the national living wage, or any other employment matter please do not hesitate to contact

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Beat the Budget with cost effective HR support from 121

With the Budget on everyone’s mind today just a reminder that 121 HR Solutions can deliver outsourced HR support to suit any budget! We offer cost effective monthly HR Business Partnership Packages, one off HR Project Support or simply check contracts and handbooks to ensure they meet all current legislation – you really can’t afford not to contact us!! Freephone 0800 9995 121 or

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Gender bias in recruitment – which words are “biased”?

A large-scale study of British recruitment adverts has revealed that that the use of gender-biased wording in advertising decreases the likelihood of job applications from female candidates.

Sex discrimination in the workplace, whether conscious or unconscious, may begin at an even earlier stage than many believe, according to the results from a recent study.

Among the adverts reviewed, 478,175 words were thought to carry a gender bias, with ads for social care and admin roles most likely to use female-biased language. By contrast, sales and management roles were among the ads most likely to use male-biased language.

The study found that gender-biased language was often used to describe traditional male roles such: lead, analyse, competitive, active and confident. In contrast, adverts that sought softer skills were often unconsciously slanted towards women, deploying words such as: support, responsible, understanding, dependable and committed.

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Sickness absence statistics: 137 million lost days!

The number of working days lost to sickness absence in the UK has fallen to the lowest level since records began – but analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests an ageing workforce and increasing numbers of part-time employees may reverse this trend in future.

According to the report, 137.3 million days – equivalent to 4.3 per worker – were lost to sickness absence last year, the lowest rate since records began in 1993. The level of absence fell for every demographic group, except those aged 65 and over, who were absent through illness for 2.9% of all working days on average.

Of the 137.3 million sickness absence days last year, minor illnesses such as coughs and colds accounted for a quarter followed by 22% for musculoskeletal issues and 12% for mental health problems.

Factors such as worker status, working hours and geographical location also affected sickness absence levels. The self-employed recorded a lower rate of sickness absence than employees, with figures standing at 1.1% and 2.1% respectively.

Public sector employees have consistently experienced higher rates of absence than those in other sectors, with the 2016 figures standing at 2.9% for the public sector and 1.7% in the private sector.

Location also had an impact. The UK’s highest sickness absence rates were recorded in Wales and Scotland– 2.6% and 2.5% respectively. Northern Ireland had a rate of 2.3%, while in England, the north east (2.3%) and London (1.4%) represented opposite ends of the scale.

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Conducting Workplace Investigations – workshop in Glasgow

Conducting Workplace Investigations

5th December 2017 in Glasgow

Feedback from previous delegates:

Very useful training – to the point but personable”

“Interesting and informative presentation, leaving me feeling confident to investigate matters”

There are many occasions where there is a need to hold internal investigations in the workplace. They are held to clarify and establish the facts of individual cases and to assist Managers in making a decision as to whether there are grounds to call a disciplinary hearing or dismiss a member of staff. It is important to be aware that employers may be held liable if a poor investigation leads to an unfair dismissal.

This workshop will cover:

• The responsibilities of the employer
• The rights of the employee
• The stages of an investigation
• Listening and questioning techniques
• When to suspend
• Writing the report and presenting findings

Who is it For?

HR professionals, line-managers, supervisors, employee representatives and legal practitioners.

Price: £160 + VAT, per person. Maximum of 4 delegates per organisation. Contact us to find out about multiple booking discount available
Time: 10.00am – 16.00pm.
Book now: click here to book your place or contact us at

Cancellation: Minimum 7 days cancellation notice applies or full cost will be charged.

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Post Office Workers in Landmark Victory over Monthly Pay

Postal workers have recorded a ‘landmark’ legal victory after an employment tribunal found their employer was unable to impose a change of pay schedule from weekly to monthly without their explicit consent.

In a case that may have broader ramifications in the postal service and beyond, two employees took the Post Office to tribunal through their union after it announced that it intended to move 1,230 employees onto a new salary schedule.

While both said they had emphatically rejected the new contractual variations before they came into effect, the Post Office argued that, as both employees continued to attend work and receive pay, they had accepted the change. It added that as the employees had not made it clear they were “working under protest”, and as they had accepted loans from their employer, they had implicitly agreed to the changes.

However, the tribunal rejected this argument, ruling that, by not paying the workers each week, the Post Office had subjected them to an unlawful deduction of wages. It additionally found the pair were entitled to be paid every week – and for every Friday they were not paid, the Post Office would be in breach of contract.

The tribunal found there was no right to vary the contract in this way. The fact that the employees had worked on ‘under protest’ did not mean they had accepted the change.”

An employer only has the right to impose a variation such as this where the contract clearly allows it, and by working on under protest the employees retained their right to hold the employer to their original terms and conditions.

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Conflict in the workplace – top tips!

Conflict is an inevitable part of our business and professional lives. Disagreements, differing views, frank discussions – all these things can create positive outcomes if handled appropriately. Handled badly, the results can be damaging, destructive and dangerous.

When dealing with conflict there some key skills to consider:


An ability to understand a situation from someone else’s perspective

Thinking in advance of what is needed and what actions will help resolve the matter, before entering a difficult conversation.

Being open and having face-to-face conversations will always work better than email exchanges.

Having and showing respect for the person, the issue and the conversation itself will demonstrate that you are committed to resolving the conflict.

Being sufficiently brave to tackle the issue is the greatest challenge to dealing with conflict; but one which will inevitably help resolve the matter. Agreeing that there is a problem and that it needs to be solved will help to get to the root cause of the problem and ultimately lead to solutions being developed.

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