Posture at Work: Why It’s Important and How to Improve

Maintaining good posture within the workplace is very important. What does good posture mean? In theory it’s when your bones, muscles, joins and ligaments are properly aligned. This maintains the healthy condition of your body, which leads to increased efficiency and longevity. Good posture can help prevent several health problems. Many of these are long term health problems.

The health problems caused from constant bad posture include:

  • Increased risk of backaches
  • Fatigue
  • Poor digestion
  • Increased chances of cardiovascular issues
  • Varicose veins
  • Changes in your spinal curvature

As an employee, maintaining good posture is very important to ensure you are able to work at a high level for a long period of time, without any health problem interruptions. As an employer, ensuring staff maintain a good posture is very important, to prevent the occurrence of health problems, leading to possible compensation claims etc.

 

What Are The Causes of Bad Posture?

Health problems associated with bad posture arise when you are sitting with bad posture in one place for a long period of time.

Bad posture includes:

  • Slouching in your chair
  • Hunching your back
  • Rounding your shoulders
  • Poking your chin out when sat at a desk
  • Cradling your phone between your ear and neck

A common mistake that leads to poor posture is thinking your posture is good due to you being ‘comfortable’. If you are adopting the posture with the above involved, you may still encounter health problems even though it is ‘comfortable’.

Prolonged inactivity, poor ergonomic workstations, a lack of movement and exercise, can also lead to problems with your posture.

 

How to Improve Your Posture

 

Support your back

The best way to achieve this support is through using a sufficient ergonomic chair. This chair should be adjustable, to ensure you can sit upright and adequately support your lower back. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips. You may wish to use a footrest, if it feels necessary.

 

Adjust your chair

Adjusting your chair can position you in a way that allows for the best possible posture. Your chair should be adjusted to allow for your wrists and forearms to be straight and level with the floor. This can help prevent repetitive strain injuries. Your elbows should be by the side of your body, so your arm forms an L-shape at the elbow joint.

 

Place your screen at eye level

Place the monitor about an arm’s length away, with the top of the screen roughly at eye level. If this isn’t achieved and your screen is positioned in other ways, then this may cause neck problems due to constant strain.

 

Position your keyboard to be straight in front of you

Keep your arms bent in an L-shape and your elbows by your sides. Some people use wrist supports, which may be highly beneficial as it keeps your wrists straight and at keyboard level.

 

Ensure regular breaks are taken

Regular breaks should be taken, to allow for your bones, joints and muscles to rest and recover. This may be done by planning intervals to get up and move around or through job rotation etc.

If you have any questions about health and safety in the workplace then feel free to get in touch with our experts by getting in touch using the details below.

Read more

What Are The 5 Most Common Internal HR Mistakes?

When people think about human resources, often thoughts go towards HR teams but it can also refer to how a business handles its people (staff) in general. It’s important for companies to have in place HR policies and procedures to ensure their staff are looked after and keeps the company compliant with UK legislation.

HR has been designed to maximise the productivity and performance of employees by closely managing their progress in their job role. Often, HR departments are responsible for several roles within the company, including – Hiring, firing, inductions, training & development, rewards and performance appraisals.

HR departments also handle a lot of admin and paperwork; they’re responsible for payroll, taxes, maintaining legal compliance with employment law and handling employee issues (for example, sickness or holiday leave). These are all crucial functions for business and are necessary, especially when dealing with large numbers of staff.

Some businesses have an in-house HR department that deals with all the people problems which may arise. Smaller businesses, however, often do not have their own in-house team to deal with HR – It can often be the director or manager, adding more to their already full plate.

Businesses small and large can choose to outsource their HR, to companies like Wurkplace, when they feel they can no longer handle their own HR services and need some extra support. It can also be cheaper for some companies to outsource their HR instead of paying a full-time employee, outsource HR consultants only work when they’re needed.

Having your HR dealt with externally can often be more effective than an internal HR department, this is because outsource HR companies hire experts in the field and often internal HR departments are made up of existing employees (who may not have much HR experience).

When looking at internal HR departments, there are five main mistakes that are made and you can read them here.

 

1. Employment Law

This is the legislation that regulates the relationship between employers and employees, it highlights what employers expect from employees and employee rights at work (e.g. terms of employment, data protection, maternity/paternity, holiday pay & entitlement, etc).

If employers do not follow employment law, they could face employment tribunals or even legal action in serious cases. There is lots of legislation in place in the UK to protect employees, for example, The Employment Rights Act (1996) which covers issues like dismissal, unfair dismissal, redundancy and maternal/paternal rights and The National Minimum Wage Act (1998) which sets out the national minimum wage for all employees.

Employment law is always changing and adapting to improve employee rights in the workplace, this can make it very difficult to keep up to date with, especially when HR departments are busy with other work. Having an outsourced team could be advantageous for this reason because they usually have much more experience in the area and keep informed of changes to HR law.

For example, in April 2020, The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act (2018) was introduced. This gives every employed parent the right to two weeks of paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18. New legislation like this and adaptations to older legislation happen fairly often, which could cause employees to ask for employment tribunals which could cost the business a lot of money.

 

2. Absent or Out of Date Documentation

Sometimes having the proper documentation and paperwork can seem unimportant, but it’s actually very important in the world of HR. Making sure all the appropriate documents are filled out and stored is crucial to protect the business from unwanted legal fees or tribunals.

For example, HR departments should file the good and the bad – including performance appraisals, disciplinary meetings and any formal warning given to employees. If these are not stored, your business could be vulnerable if an employee claims unfair dismissal or misconduct.

Outsource HR companies often implement online HR software solutions, these store all your HR documents in once place, making it easy to access and find all the paperwork you need.

 

3. Hiring and Firing

It is the HR departments responsibility to recruit new employees and to also fire existing employees, if necessary. Having a well thought out hiring and firing process can make it much easier for HR to make these decisions.

It can be difficult for HR to find the best talent to recruit, writing the right job description and choosing the right candidate can sometimes cause a lot of problems for internal HR. If during the interview candidates are asked about their age, sex or religion, the company may be accused of hiring-bias, potentially tarnishing the reputation.

Additionally, if the firing process is not done correctly by HR departments, ex-employees could make claims for unfair dismissal or even slander the business online. Internal HR departments often know most of the employees which can sometimes lead to unprofessional conduct or could make the employee feel embarrassed or ashamed.

 

4. Poor Inductions and Training

Making sure all new recruits are up to speed with all the policies and procedures and ensuring existing employees have the opportunity to develop their skills is the responsibility of HR. Oftentimes, this can be overlooked by internal HR departments as they’re already accustomed to the business, making it easy to forget important information.

Having all new and existing employees partake in training courses will help companies stay compliant with HR law, making sure employees can do their job effectively and safely. Some internal HR departments struggle to keep track of all the training employees have undertaken and training staff into managerial roles.

Investing time into existing employees can have great rewards, allowing businesses to promote internally, rather than having to hire new managers all the time. Developing leadership skills and knowing how to fill in appropriate documents is essential for staff to improve their confidence and feel more comfortable in their role.

 

5. Not Having an Updated Employee Handbook

Employers aren’t required by law to provide employees with a handbook, however, they do need key policies and procedures to be written down and the terms of employment. Employee handbooks are an easy way to show every member of staff is aware of these policies and their terms of employment in one place!

Businesses can sometimes overlook the importance of having an up to date employee handbook – It’s recommended that the employee handbook is reviewed once a year to make sure all your policies and procedures are up to date with that latest legislation.

Plus, having your employees sign a copy of your handbook is a great way for businesses to protect themselves against potential legal action in the future. If you have an up to date employee handbook, having a signature proves that the employee knows their rights and the terms of their employment.

Does your business need expert advice and support for HR? Contact our experienced HR support team. by calling 0330 400 5490 or use the methods below!

Read more

Should You Spy on Your Employees at Work?

As an employer you will have a very busy schedule which means you do not have the time to observe your employees and you may often wonder what they are up to.

The main question to think about is, can you trust your employees?

Trusting your employees plays a big part as to whether you feel the need to check up on them and ascertain what they are doing during their time at work or whether you can relax knowing that they will be hard at work completing tasks they should be.

If you find yourself in the situation where you want to check on your employees at work, you can, but you need legitimate reasons. You must clarify with all your employees why it is you are monitoring them.

Ways to monitor your employees may include:

  • Monitoring phone calls with customers for training purposes.
  • Monitoring of email usage.
  • Monitoring of website visits.
  • GPS tracking of company devices such as cars and smartphones.
  • Bag searches.

However, if you plan to carry out such searches and monitoring, you must have a policy in place that informs employees of this and you must have a legitimate work-related reason to do so.

On joining the company, the employee will receive documents such as their contract of employment and the employee handbook which will include these policies. If you do not have these policies in place but wish to introduce them, you must liaise with all employees and ascertain a signed agreement which states their acceptance of these changes and new policies.

For example you may have an ’Internet and Email Policy’ which highlights the regulations around the use of emails for business purposes only, using the internet for business purposes only and that the company has the right to retrieve the contents of all incoming and outgoing messages for the purpose of monitoring.

By signing a document to declare that they will adhere to your company’s policies, the employee is therefore agreeable to not breach these policies. All policies around monitoring should be highlighted in the employee handbook.

Although monitoring is a common practice in many businesses’, ‘spying’ on the other hand, is against the law in many cases. As an employer, you should be careful to ensure you don’t cross the line between monitoring and spying as the chances that an employee will make a claim and take you to an employment tribunal due to spying are high.

An example of this would include installing microscopic cameras in staff toilets or following an employee to a supposed meeting without them knowing.

You can place video surveillance devices in common areas and entrances to your office. However, you cannot legally place cameras in private spaces such as bathrooms.

As with monitoring, you must be able to justify spying, but even then, the courts will likely find that you have breached human rights. It is therefore safer to monitor your employees, not spy on them.

 

Advantages of Monitoring

Monitoring employees minimises immoral and unlawful behaviours that could have a negative impact on a business such as losing custom and therefore losing money. Monitoring encourages employees that would otherwise act unlawfully to act in an expected manner resulting in the business excelling.

 

Disadvantages of Monitoring

Employees may already have more than enough stress at work by having to meet tight deadlines, dealing with co-workers etc. The constant monitoring of employee activities could create even more stress.

If the employee feels the surveillance is felt to be a form of spying, they will develop a feeling of mistrust from their employer. This feeling of being constantly watched will more than likely create an uncomfortable and negative work environment which may negatively impact the success of the business.

The effect achieved will be the opposite effect anticipated, by decreasing performance and encouraging employees to develop ways to work around the monitoring. This could also cause employee turnover to increase.

As well as this, such technology can be expensive. Storage methods and the equipment necessary are costly, and smaller businesses may not be able to afford it.

 

Importance Of Data Protection

The main UK legislative sources for the collection and monitoring of data are the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR.

The data protection principles are a set of strict rules to ensure that information kept is:

  • Used fairly, lawfully, and transparently
  • Used for specified, explicit purposes
  • Used in a way that is adequate, relevant, and limited to only what is necessary
  • Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
  • Kept for no longer than is necessary
  • Handled in a way that ensures appropriate security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing, access, loss, destruction, or damage

The employee has the right to find out what information is stored about them. These include the right to:

  • Be informed about how your data is being used
  • Access personal data
  • Have incorrect data updated
  • Have data erased
  • Stop or restrict the processing of your data
  • Data portability (allowing you to get and reuse your data for different services)
  • Object to how your data is processed in certain circumstances
  • HR service team.

    Read more

What Are the Effects of the Event Industry Shutting Down on Mental Health

A lot has happened in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic surprised and shocked people all over the planet – we have never experienced a virus pandemic like this in our lifetimes!

When the virus first got to the UK, not many people took it very seriously thinking it was just like the flu.

However, as the case and death figures started to rise, it became obvious that COVID-19 is dangerous and needs to be properly controlled.

On the 23rd of March, the Prime Minister announced that the UK was entering its first national lockdown; meaning Britons should stay at home and only leave for limited reasons. Across all industries, venues closed down in the UK and closed down business.

This lockdown lasted for around 12 weeks (4x longer than initially thought) until the restrictions were slowly lifted due to a reduction in case and death numbers. As lockdown restrictions eased, many worried about a second wave of the virus as we got closer to the traditional flu season.

Unfortunately, these worries came true and the government announced a tiered system of lockdowns on the 12th of October that could be imposed on local areas, rather than nationally. This was upsetting for the business events industry, who were only allowed to reopen on the 1st of October if COVID-secure (if you need Health & Safety support to get COVID-secure, contact Wurkplace!).

However, now, as case numbers have continued to rise (with 20,018 new cases reported on the 3rd of November) the government has had to change their strategy, to protect the NHS and save lives.

From the 5th of November, England entered a second national lockdown (following Wales and Northern Ireland), once again asking the general public to stay at home where possible but keeping schools & universities open.

For those working in the events industry, this is devastating news as some event venues have remained closed since the first national lockdown, being told they cannot reopen safely. The Events Industry Alliance (EIA) wrote an open letter to the government stating that 90,000 jobs could be lost in the event sector if further support isn’t provided by the government.

The events sector employs around 600,000 people in the UK, this would be a loss of over 15% of all jobs in this industry. Although, employees are not the only ones who will suffer if the events industry stays closed – Many members of the general public rely on this industry for entertainment and as a social outlet.

 

How Does the Events Industry Affect Mental Health?

The events industry is a vast sector in the UK – it involves outdoor events, charity events, trade fairs & exhibitions, conferences, music concerts & festivals and other festivals (e.g. food festivals, etc).

Listening to live music can have a huge impact on people, it’s a different experience completely from listening to recorded music. Often, people enjoy going to concerts or festivals because they get to listen to their favourite artists and socialise with like-minded individuals.

One research paper looking at the difference between live and tape-recorded music found that when listening to live music participants experienced significantly less anxiety, tension and more vigour. They also found that live music caused more changes in physical discomfort and in mood (for the better), these participants also would recommend live musical therapy to others.

This research shows how differently live music affects us – Listening to live music is much better for our mood and mental health. This could be why many people experience ‘concert or festival blues’ the week after attending!

Additionally, research has found that food festivals also have a positive impact on mental health – When attending a food festival the effect of negative emotions is reduced over time. Food festivals combine two essential things for humans; eating and social interaction. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, these are two of the main basic and psychological needs for humans.

Even when looking at conferences or charity events, they allow for groups of similar people to gather and socialise which can seriously improve mental well-being and reduce feelings of loneliness.

A study investigating the motivations behind participants in a sporting charity event – They found four main motivations, with one of them being social interaction with other participants. Humans are a social mammal, the events industry brings people together and allows for socialising where there may not usually be any.

 

The Effects of the Events Industry Shutting Down on Mental Health

As we’ve gone through the year of 2020, it seems like almost every event has been cancelled or shut down due to COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions. This had a serious toll on Britons mental health and well-being – Most of us got our hopes up over the summer, only to realise that the virus would stop us attending events for even longer.

Events are often positive activities that encourage people to come out of their shell and have positive social interactions. Some research into this area found that positive activities & interactions with people can act as protective factors against mental health problems, by reducing negative thoughts and feelings of loneliness.

This is especially important for the younger generation, those in adolescence will particularly struggle with the events industry being closed. For younger people, research has shown that social interaction is strongly correlated with mental health status, much more than with adults.

Adolescents that don’t get much social interaction are much more likely to struggle with mental health issues like depression, anxiety and stress! The events industry allows for young people to come together and make friends with like-minded people, with this being closed there is a reduction in social interaction between the younger generation.

However, closing the events industry will affect most people in the UK – Young or old. According to the Business Visits & Events Partnership, the UK events industry is worth £39.1 billion, which highlights the value of events to people across the country as we have invested a lot of money into the sector.

With this sector being closed again, many people will lose a big source of social interaction, which is especially important for those who live alone during the pandemic! There is lots of evidence that suggests that socialising has many positive effects on both our physical and mental health.

One paper even suggests that the more social interaction we have, the better our cognitive functioning is! Having social relationships (instead of just household relationships) can benefit many aspects of people’s lives, especially when considering their mental state.

The events industry may seem unnecessary for some people, but it has a serious impact on our mental health, whether we realise it or not! Having a second national lockdown could further deteriorate the mental well-being of the UK, finding a way to allow the events industry to reopen safely would benefit us all.

Does your business need occupational health support support during the pandemic? Look no further, Wurkplace has got you covered! Call us on 0330 400 5490 or fill in our online contact form.

Read more

What Are The 5 Most Common Internal Health and Safety Mistakes?

Having a workplace that keeps employees, customers and visitors, safe from harm is essential to a businesses success. Businesses that don’t comply with health and safety legislation can lose employees and customers, face temporary or permanent closure, legal fines and even prosecution!

No matter what industry you’re in, managing health and safety is essential – All workplaces face different challenges, with some sectors being inherently more dangerous than others (e.g. construction compared to office work). When working in an environment that seems risk-free, it can be much easier to overlook several health & safety issues.

Health and safety issues like manual handling or slips, trips and falls can occur in any workplace; these issues can easily be forgotten about but that does not make them any less important/ Staff members could develop serious health problems (like musculoskeletal disorders, which are common in many workers) when issues are ignored or not properly controlled.

Having an internal health and safety department can be beneficial but it also has its downsides – They can often overlook safety issues and can be expensive to keep a full-time health & safety staff member(s). Having access to an independent consultancy can help you to see the bigger picture and identify every potential hazard.

Many companies choose to outsource their health and safety, to help make safety simple and easy by having access to health and safety consultants that are educated and experienced in health and safety law, this ensures compliance with current UK legislation.

When looking at internal health and safety departments, there are five main mistakes which are commonly made.

 

1. Not Identifying & Making Assumptions About Health Hazards

When dealing with your own health and safety, it can be easy to overlook or completely miss potential health hazards. This is because when you spend more time in an environment, you’re less likely to notice new hazards – Having a fresh set of eyes can really help with this!

There are many different types of potential hazards (e.g. falls, chemical issues, ventilation, mechanical, etc), the failure to identify these could result in serious injury in the workplace. This could lead to employees or even customers reporting your premises or even taking the business to tribunal or court, which can lead to hefty fines and compensation payouts.

If health hazards are not identified, the company could be seen as negligent and could have an impact on the recruitment and turnover of employees. If your business has a reputation for not having a safe working environment, existing & potential employees may be put off and even customers may decide to no longer give you their custom. Staff and customers alike feel more valued when their health and safety is taken seriously!

 

2. Having an Untidy & Unorganised Workplace

It may seem like common sense to keep workspaces clear of clutter and well organised, but it is often overlooked when regarding health and safety. Keeping the workplace tidy and organised can significantly reduce the number of accidents and potential health hazards.

Taking the time to clean up and tidy can often be seen as a waste of time by senior management, this is one of the biggest mistakes of internal health and safety! Having messy corridors & hallways and clutter blocking emergency or fire exits can be a huge health hazard, blocking staff & customers path to safety!

If the internal health and safety team does not spot these hazards, they may get used to how the workplace looks and forget about the potential hazards it can cause. Depending on the size of the workplace, this can be easily resolved by taking a few minutes at the end of shifts to tidy things away and reorganise.

 

3. Poor Safety Training

Many workplace accidents and injuries can be easily avoided if employees are educated and trained in how to handle hazards. Many accidents in the workplace are caused by human error, therefore educating staff on potential hazards can reduce the likelihood of this error.

Oftentimes, internal departments provide safety training that is inadequate or outdated, this is one of the biggest mistakes in health and safety – Having access to online training courses can be beneficial as these courses can be updated regularly and can be more interactive.

Research has shown that the more engaging training courses lead to more effective responses when faced with hazards, and less engaging training can lead to less effective responses. Having access to regular safety training, that is engaging and relevant to the specific workplace can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring.

 

4. Putting Off Maintenance, Inspections & Testing

A large number of businesses rely on some form of machinery, and keeping it running is often essential to keeping business running. However, when machinery hasn’t run into problems for some time, it can lull us into a false sense of security and making sure they’re safe and well maintained can be forgotten about easily.

If machines break, this can have a huge impact on companies’ health & safety and productivity! Not only can this mean that some work can no longer go on, but it could also be a potential hazard to employees – Who could injure themselves trying to fix the problem.

Ensuring that all machinery in your workplace is regularly inspected, tested and maintained can reduce this risk! This is crucial to the health and safety of everyone who enters your premises, doing regular testing like PAT (portable appliance testing) can ensure all your businesses machinery is safe to be used.

 

5. Ignoring Staff Mental Health

Problems concerning mental well-being are one of the biggest causes of time off work – Employees who already struggle with their mental health and even those who don’t can be negatively affected by workplace stress. This can have a serious impact on their health, productivity and safety!

The Mental Health Foundation reports that one in six people in the last week have experienced one of the common mental health issues (depression, anxiety, drug use, etc) – That’s a lot of potential employees who are struggling with their mental health, this is why protecting their physical and mental health is so important.

Having high job satisfaction can reduce the feeling of stress and potentially leads to better mental well-being. HSE suggests that designing jobs with employee satisfaction in mind can increase productivity levels significantly and reduce workplace stress.

Additionally, having training courses that can help staff to deal with the stress in the workplace (e.g. stress management training) can be very beneficial and help staff members to cope with their workload.

If you want a FREE health and safety consultation with one of our experts, fill out our online contact form. Alternatively, you can speak to an advisor by calling 0330 400 5490.

Read more

When Should You Take Unpaid Leave?

Whilst like paid annual leave, unpaid leave is more commonly known as being at the employer’s discretion, there are two areas where unpaid leave is protected by law.

  • Parental and carers rights, such as parental leave.
  • Time off to carry out public duties, such as jury service and magistrate duties.

Outside of these two areas, unpaid leave is at the employer’s discretion.

 

Unpaid Leave for Parents

Those eligible for unpaid leave are employees who need to take leave to look after a child’s welfare.

Under the Government guidelines, parents can take leave for the following circumstances:

  • Spending more time with their children
  • To review new schools
  • To support settling a child into new childcare routines
  • Spending more time with family, such as to visit grandparents

Unpaid parental leave entitles eligible employees to take up to 18 weeks’ leave for each child or adopted child, up until the children reach the age of 18 years old.

Employees are limited to 4 weeks in each year for each child, and leave must be taken in full weeks, rather than in individual days.

 

Employees Eligibility

  • Employees must have been with their company for more than a year.
  • The employee must be named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate.
  • Have or expect to have parental responsibility (following the Government guidelines)
  • The parent must not be classified as self-employed or a ‘worker’, e.g. an agency worker or contractor.
  • The employee is not a foster parent (unless they have secured parental responsibility through the courts)
  • The child must be under the age of 18 years old.

In December 2014, shared parental leave came into force, which enabled employees to choose how they can share their time off work following the birth or adoption of a child.

This type of leave supported employees with the flexibility on how they could share the caring responsibilities, and in some cases their financial requirements.

The entitlement allows employees to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay, along with the opportunity to be off together or stagger leave to ensure one parent/guardian is with their child in the infants the first year.

Whilst from an employer point of view, it can be frustrating and come with operational impact, it is extremely important to understand the employee rights, and be fully aware of the employee’s needs, to support them, not forgetting that the employees/parents are entitled to the above for each child, not just the individual’s job, and any parental leave can be carried over to a new employer, should the employee change employers.

As an example…

If an employee used 7 weeks for parental unpaid leave with a previous employer, they could only have 11 weeks with their new employer once they are eligible, and this information can be included in a factual employment reference.

 

Public Duties

Employees are also legally entitled to request time off for certain public duties, as well as their normal holiday entitlement. As an employer, you can choose to pay them for their time off, but it is not compulsory.

All employees must be granted time off for jury service, but they can also get a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off for:

  • A magistrate or otherwise known as a justice of the peace
  • To be a local councillor
  • To be a school governor
  • If you are required for any statutory tribunal (for example an employment tribunal)
  • A member of the managing or governing body of an educational establishment
  • A member of a health authority
  • A member of the school council or board in Scotland
  • A member of the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • A member of the prison independent monitoring boards (England or Wales) or a member of the prison visiting committees (Scotland)
  • A member of Scottish Water or a Water Customer Consultation Panel
  • A Trade Union member (For trade union duties)

 

What Counts As Reasonable Time Off?

The amount of time off needs to be agreed between the employee and employer before attendance based on:

  • How long the expected duties might go on for
  • Depending on the amount of time off the employee has already had off for public duties
  • The impact the time off required could have on the business

As an employer the time off can be refused if the employee is:

  • An agency worker
  • A member of the armed forces or police services
  • Employed on a gas or oil rig at sea, or on a fishing vessel away at sea
  • A merchant seaman
  • Civil servants, if the public duties are connected to political activities restricted under their terms and conditions of employment

Or if the employer feels the time off is unreasonable.

All the above can request time off for jury duties, and an employer cannot refuse time off for this, neither are they obliged to pay for the time taken off for jury service. Jury service can be claimed by the employee for a loss of earnings through the courts.

 

Other Reasons an Employee Can Request for Unpaid Leave

There is a variety of reasons an employee can request for unpaid leave, which is at the discretion of the employer.

Here are some examples:

  • Time off to study
  • Career breaks
  • Time off to care for non-dependants
  • Medical and dental appointments

There must be business expectations communicated to all those required, such as managers or SME owners and HR Departments who agree time off, are aware of the existing presidency and of setting precedence and communicating these, to ensure consistency and reduce grievances within the workforce.

At Wurkplace, we would recommend that as well as a holiday policy, that any business also implements a dependency and or unpaid leave policy. This way the employees will have it laid out to them what their entitlement is and will also help create a fairer approach to time off.

 

Can Unpaid Leave Have an Impact on The Business Culture?

It is important to understand that whilst having an unpaid leave policy can be helpful for employees, a business and managers need to understand that some groups of employees may need to use the facility more than others.

This can come with a risk of creating an unfair balance in the business, especially if unpaid leave is the answer to all medical appointments and family-related requests.

In circumstances of disabled employees and those with chronic health conditions will potentially need more time off for attendance to appointments.

Also, despite a new era of equal opportunity and diversity, in society today more than often women are still the primary caregivers in many families.

This can mean that they may request more unpaid leave than the males in your business, this could also result in a pay gap and culture that is focused on the able-bodied and child-free employees.

We strongly recommend implementing other supportive approaches such as a flexible policy. This can help employees balance either their medical or care duties, avoiding the need to take unpaid leave.

Wurkplace has seen a more positive, productive, and inclusive workforce through our experiences and client’s businesses.

An approach to flexible working could be from home working, flexible hours, a flexible approach to the working culture that can reduce the need and amount of unpaid leave hours/days, increasing more man-hours out of loyalty for their employers. This will help improve employee financial well-being and support a positive business culture.

For further advice and guidance, please contact Wurkplace’s HR support team directly to review your current business needs, such as high amounts of unpaid leave, absence leave patterns, and implementation of policies and procedures through our business support model.

Read more

What Are The Advantages of Online Training for Employers

Business and individual training needs, developing competence, meeting legal requirements, worker availability, course flexibility, location, cost, work pressures and demands. These are many of the things that may spring to mind when thinking about introducing and delivering health and safety training.

As online training is now widely available and being increasingly used the purpose of this blog is to outline some of the advantages of online training for employers when deciding on the most appropriate means of training their workforce.

 

Requirements for Health and Safety Training

Firstly let’s look at why we need training in the first place. Most people will appreciate that in order to achieve good standards of health and safety performance in the workplace a key element of this is training.

Training in general and specific hazard areas, tasks, or activities, which are undertaken as part of the business premises and work is vital to ensure suitable information, instruction and training is provided.

After all if people don’t know about hazards and control measures, how can they be expected to understand them and know what to do to keep themselves and others safe during their work.

Not only does the need for training make great business sense generally, but there have also been some key legal rulings and requirements introduced surrounding the provision of information and training by employers.

Wilsons and Clyde Coal Co. Ltd v English 1938 was an early health and safety case where the common law duties of care which an employer has towards their employees were identified in general terms. The House of Lords ruled that the employer’s common law duty of care included a safe system of work and the provision of competent staff.

How do we achieve competent staff? Largely through the provision of suitable instruction and training.

Fast forward nearly 40 years to the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 (HASWA). HASWA placed legal obligations upon employers under Section 2 of the Act, to provide information, instruction, training, and supervision to ensure so far as reasonably practicable health and safety of employees at work.

This legal requirement has been expanded further within the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to ensure employees are capable and trained, and to ensure they receive adequate health and safety training.

Beyond this, virtually all health and safety laws passed generally contain the element of competence and training in some way shape or form, so suitable training is essential in complying with the law and towards ensuring health and safety.

 

What Are the Advantages of Online Training for Employers

There is a wide range of areas of health and safety where online training is appropriate and offers a wide range of benefits to the employer.

After selecting a suitable course from reputable providers and approved by industry bodies, which meet the training needs of the business and individuals, there are a number of benefits online training can bring.

Firstly there is a great deal of flexibility to online training courses, where courses can be undertaken individually by employees rather than training in larger groups.

This potentially lessens the impact of absences of large numbers of workers to attend a classroom based course, which can often be harder to facilitate and arrange, and naturally lead to impact on productivity during the times of the training course due to the absence of larger groups of workers. Online training also gives organisations potentially more flexibility to release individual workers for training.

Another area is cost, often a big factor in choice of training. Whilst employers are legally bound to provide suitable time and resources for health and safety training, cost is still a consideration with regards to the various training options.

Not only is there potentially greater cost of training absences of larger numbers of the workforce, but as classroom based training often requires various equipment, facilities, and the attendance of a trainer, these can all add to the overheads of the training provider, which ultimately is included within the cost of the course itself. So online training courses, with the same required content, can have very little overhead and be very cost effective to achieve the same ends.

Online training can also be undertaken at suitable locations in the workplace or elsewhere such as from home, needing only a device and an internet connection. This potentially prevents the need for workers going off site to training venues which also increases the time and cost of the training.

 

Use During the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

As we are currently in the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering online training has become even more popular as it can help to reduce the associated risks.

Risk control methods which are now common include an increase in working from home, staff working patterns being altered to include particular bubbles/team working to offer greater protection to the individuals, but also to help the organisation contingency plan and continue to function in the wake of workplace outbreak, and also the reduction in use of meetings in person in favour of online virtual meetings, to name just a few.

So in a time where businesses are adopting these means to control risk, and businesses and workers are adapting to technological advances, online training delivery is an extremely worthwhile option on many fronts for businesses.

In summary, health and safety training is a fundamental legal requirement which is essential to developing competent employees and contributing to ensuring health and safety in the workplace.

The current climate during the Coronavirus pandemic has required workers to adapt and develop new technological skills, but has also imposed restrictions on the way training is delivered, so online training is an excellent alternative method for delivery of certain training courses, and employers should seriously consider the use of online training when looking at their training needs.

Wurkplace can assist your business with various aspects of health and safety management including training, and have a wide range of online training courses available which are suitably approved. Wurkplace have competent employees with professional experience and relevant health and safety expertise to support your business with any training requirements you may have.

If you would like to find out more about our outsourced health and safety services, then get in touch with us – you can contact us by post, phone, email, or social media.

Read more

5 Ways to Deal With an Angry Ex-Employee

Getting fired is never fun! However, it’s likely that we’ll all experience it at some point in our lives, how employers handle the situation can have a huge impact on the result. Sometimes employment termination can feel a bit like a break-up, it can either end on good or bad terms.

Being laid off or fired can cause employees to have negative feelings towards their boss/business and can increase feelings of anger, shame and sadness. Although, research has found that the threat of termination can actually have a positive effect on employee productivity and job performance.

Read more

Tips to Conduct an Effective Virtual Interview

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a learning curve for all of us, with many people’s lives changing and getting used to ‘the new normal’. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and business, many employers have been forced to make some employees redundant.

In 2019, the national office for statistics found that the unemployment rate in Brits over the age of 16 was around 3.7%; now, however, the employment rate has risen to 4.5% which is an increase of almost 1%. This may seem like a small number but this is a rise of around a quarter of a million people!

Read more

What You Need To Know About The Winter Economy Plan

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced his new winter economy plan on the 24th of September – This outlines all the financial support that will be available in the winter months for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (self-employed & businesses).

According to Which, the winter economy plan is defined as the broad name for the collection of schemes, initiatives and tax deferrals that the government has planned to help safeguard jobs over the next few months.

Read more