Posts by Pam Loch:

Is it time to stamp out e-cigarettes in your workplace?

e-cigarettes at workElectronic cigarettes, love them or hate them, they are here, but are they here to stay? Since 1 July 2007, smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and workplaces in the UK has been prohibited. E-cigarettes however emit water vapour rather than smoke and therefore could be legally used in public places and workplaces. But there is increasing debate about the use of e-cigarettes in public places, as concern grows about their potential harmful effects. It’s been alleged that e-cigarettes contain chemicals that could make them as harmful as normal tobacco. The World Health Organisation (WHO) calls the devices safety “illusive”, noting that the chemicals they contain are often not disclosed and have not been properly tested, while a report commissioned by Public Health England said e-cigarettes required “appropriate regulation, careful monitoring and risk management” if their benefits were to be maximised. More →

Queen’s Speech was light on employment legislation, but don’t forget flexible work changes

Queen's Speech light on legislation, with flexible working biggest change aheadThis year’s Queen’s Speech was the last before the 2015 general election and included a relatively light legislative programme of just 11 new bills. Some of the key employment changes being proposed include changes to childcare, the national minimum wage, and zero-hours contracts. But in fact a key development which was not included in the Queen’s Speech, and yet could have the most pronounced effect on employers is the extension of the right to request flexible working. From 30 June 2014, employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment will be able to make a request for flexible working for any reason under the new statutory scheme. The procedure to be followed will be far less prescriptive than that currently in force and will place more onuson the employer to consider the request and any alternatives to the proposed request. More →

Flexible working benefits are undermined by short sighted employers

Flexible work

There has been a growing perception that flexible working practices are now commonplace in the workplace. However a recent report from Working Families, a charity set up to help working parents and carers find a balance between their responsibilities at work and at home, suggests this is a myth. Their report reflects growing concerns based on experiences and queries from their helpline that employers are in fact, becoming more rigid. The report suggests that working parents are coming under increasing pressure to give up their flexible working arrangements. It highlights “a growing number of callers to the helpline reporting the family-friendly working pattern they have had in place for years being changed or withdrawn virtually overnight, with no opportunity for them to express their views”. Ironically, despite the Government’s championing of flexible working it seems the imposition of employment tribunal claim fees could be behind the backlash. More →

Modern romance: advice to employers on managing workplace relationships

Managing workplace breakups


Despite all the cautionary tales regarding the dangers of office romance, countless employees start up relationships with co-workers every year. Whether sparks fly over the work photocopier or more likely, on a Friday night in the pub after work, the workplace still beats the internet for finding romance. The sheer number of hours we spend with colleagues together with the stresses and strains of work, can lead to close friendships that may go on to become a relationship further down the line. Research shows that couples who met at work are most likely to marry. However, the fact is that many relationships can and do fail and this is no less so for workplace relationships. Whilst clearly there are issues for the people involved to manage, it can also create headaches for employers. More →

Legal update – Employment Law changes ahead in 2014

Employment Law changes ahead in 2014

Some of the most hotly debated employment law issues from last year; including flexible working, workplace wellbeing and the contractual rights of employees look set to make more headlines this year, because 2014 is shaping up to be another year of significant change in UK employment law. While the timetable is subject to amendment, currently the Government is intending to introduce a number of revisions. The key employment law events and cases to watch out for in 2014 will include changes to TUPE, flexible working, flexible parental leave, employment tribunal procedures, redundancy consultation, Acas conciliation, calculation of holiday pay and post-employment victimisation;  which we list below in the date order in which they are proposed. More →

Extended rights to flexible working could prove a logistical headache for employers

Extended rights to flexible working could prove a logistical headache for employers

A recent decision by the government could result in emptier offices on Fridays and Mondays as staff vie with each other to work from home. This is because from April 2014 onwards, employers will have to be prepared to consider flexible working requests from any employee, not just for employees who have children under the age of 17 or responsibilities as carers. One of the more challenging areas for employers is how to manage condensed hours requests and to keep enough staff covering core office hours, without affecting the business. This could result in employers having to juggle competing flexible working requests from employees who they may not be able to accommodate all at the same time. More →

Meeting the management challenges of caring for home workers

Meeting the management challenges of caring for home workersFlexible working is on the rise. However, as reported today, while employers are happy to equip workers with the facilities required to work away from the office, there is a worrying level of unwillingness amongst many bosses in checking the safety and comfort of home workers. Employers have a duty of care to their home workers under health and safety legislation and the Working Time Regulations 1998. This means that care should be taken by employers to ensure that home workers operate in a safe and appropriate environment. This duty of care goes beyond supplying an ergonomic workstation. Managing home workers requires a varied set of management skills and best practice processes. More →

Working Time Directive – why the CBI calls for a permanent opt-out

Working Time Directive - why the CBI calls for a permanent opt-out

The UK’s opt-out of the maximum 48 hour working week being proposed by the EU is yet again under the microscope. This follows the recent publication by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) of a report which highlights the frustration felt by UK businesses regarding the Working Time Directive. “Our Global Future: The Business Vision for a Reformed EU”; focuses specifically on the continuing concerns for UK businesses around the extensive level of involvement EU legislation has on how they operate their business. It shows that the majority of businesses still favour the opt-out and the flexibility it provides. Interestingly however, many did not see the need to change the current entitlement to paid holidays or rest breaks. More →

Technology fix. What employers can do when social media becomes an addiction

Technology fix. What to do when social media become an addiction

Recent research shows that technology has helped us to become nearly five times more productive than we were in the 1970s. As well as enabling social interaction and personal expression, social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be valuable business aids for innovation and collaboration. However, with over half of people under 25 admitting they have to check Facebook at least once a day, it’s clear that for many, social media has become more than a form of virtual engagement. This can create something of an issue in the workplace, leaving employers with the dilemma of balancing the positive aspects of online communications while discouraging time wasting. More →

Only culture change will prevent the sexual harassment of people at work

Culture change needed to tackle sexual harassment of both men and women at work

Are we dangerously unaware of or perhaps even becoming dismissive about the nature and extent of sexual harassment in the workplace today? A recent survey, commissioned by a firm of solicitors, has thrown up some statistics which point to significant levels of harassment being experienced by both men and women at work. In the poll of 1,579 working people 60 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men reported that they had experienced “inappropriate” behaviour with much of it classed as persistent, degrading and embarrassing. The behaviour that most people complained about involved some degree of unwanted physical contact but also included colleagues watching pornography in the workplace.

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Gender equality and senior roles where are we now?

Gender equality at senior management and Board level has been and is likely to remain an area of contention. According to recent research by analysts BoardEx into gender inequality in Britain’s top 100 private companies, 73 per cent of companies still have all male teams of executive directors, 51 per cent have only male non-executive directors and there are still 56 per cent of all male Boards. At the end of May a new National Equality Standard was launched by the CBI and the Equality and Human Rights Commission in response to the continued concerns about the issue, which some EU members have argued requires the imposition of mandatory board quotas.

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Guidance on designing in accessibility for disabled workers

Diversity in the workplace

The government launches a campaign today using TV celebrities and disabled groups to help promote positive role models for disabled people. It’s aimed at building on the latest stats that show 81 per cent of people thought the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way disabled people are perceived. Currently they’re not well represented in the workplace, as according to DTI figures half of all disabled people are unable to find work. This is why the Equality Act 2010 plays such a vital role in promoting diversity in the workplace. Put into practice, understanding and adhering to the Equality Act 2010 requires employers to take positive action to remove certain disadvantages to disabled people posed by working practices and the physical features of premises. More →