For Employers

Get ready for the unknown
Get ready for the unknown

And so here we are.

An independent nation once again, determining our own trade policy and securing our own agreements with countries all over the world.

Our final transition out of the EU marked with those bongs from Big Ben at 11pm on December 31 means that almost everything you knew about doing business will have changed in some way or another.

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Why being on Zoom is just like being in the room
Why being on Zoom is just like being in the room

Every year at around this time, we HR professionals generally issue warnings about the perils of the works Christmas party.

In a nutshell these boil down to a simple piece of advice: Just because youre not at work, doesnt mean work rules dont apply.

This year, the office festive bash has largely been confined to the scrapheap. But theres another area where that piece of advice is growing ever more important the Zoom, Microsoft Teams or virtual meeting.

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Employee Monitoring Right or Wrong?
Employee Monitoring Right or Wrong?

It looks certain that working from home is the new normal.

With the current restrictions possibly set to stay in place until the spring there is very little chance of a widespread return to the office in the next few months.

And even after that it seems likely that employers will be reluctant to head back into the office to resume the sort of working life we knew this time last year. The benefits of working from home for both employers and employees look certain to mean that more flexible working arrangements will continue long into the future.

One spin off of the working from home revolution is that software companies are reporting a big increase in interest in devices which track or monitor staff remotely.

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The hidden challenges of working from home
The hidden challenges of working from home

The hidden challenges of working from home

Working from home is here to stay for the next six months at least.

The latest restrictions announced by the Government mean that anyone who can effectively work from home should do so.

Thats a big change in emphasis from the position just a few weeks ago, when we were being urged to return to the office to help the economy recover from the impact of the March lockdown.

And for many employers, its a move which comes with a series of hidden costs.

During the initial lockdown, some of the challenges of staff working from home were not always apparent. We simply got on with making the transformation from office to kitchen table as quickly and efficiently as we could.

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Why modern slavery is a matter for us all
Why modern slavery is a matter for us all

Its five years since the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) passed into law, and you dont have to look too hard to see that it is still a major issue in our national life.

There is plenty of evidence that the issue continues to be a blight and that there remains much misunderstanding amongst companies about their responsibilities in this area.

Thats a desperately sad situation. When applied correctly, the MSA can help lift those affected out of truly horrendous exploitation and also lead to much-improved morale among companies which might, unwittingly, have relied on forced labour.

Latest figures from the Global Slavery Index for the UK suggest that as many as 136,000 people are caught up by modern slavery though the Governments own figures put the number as between 10-13,000.

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Can I insist staff return to work?
Can I insist staff return to work?

You will know by now that the Governments official advice to employees about returning to work changed from the start of this month.

Previously, it had been the Governments position that everyone who could work from home should do so to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But from August 1, Boris Johnson says that employers can have more discretion in the matter meaning that homeworking could continue, or workplaces could be made safe by following the Governments guidelines and staff could be allowed back.

This slow return to the workplace will inevitably bring with it some anxiety on the part of employees. How will they know their workplace is safe? What if they live with someone who is shielding? What if they have to use public transport to get to work?

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For Employees

Good news  for now  for employees after Brexit
Good news for now for employees after Brexit

Heres some good news to start the new year (and heaven knows, we need it).

Brexit and the end of the transition period on December 31 is unlikely to have a huge effect on your rights as an employee.

At least for now.

Most of the employment laws which were in place prior to our final transition out of the EU will simply be adopted as UK law for the time being and will remain in place until the UK Government decides to change or amend it.

Of course, nobody can predict the future with any certainty (a lesson weve all learnt over these past 12 months) but there is unlikely to be an immediate rush on the Governments part to start tearing up all the employment legislation we have inherited whilst being a part of the EU.

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Video conferencing no excuse for sexism
Video conferencing no excuse for sexism

It might be new technology, but the emergence of Zoom, Microsoft Teams ad all the other video conferencing platforms weve had to get used to over the past eight or nine months has brought the return of an old foe.

Sexism, it seems, is back in the workplace (not that it ever truly went away).

Women across the country have been reporting a series of uncomfortable experiences whilst using video conferencing for work during the pandemic.

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Monitoring of Homeworking
Monitoring of Homeworking

For many, one of the few sliver linings in the midst of coronavirus has been the chance to work from home.

With the need to commute to the office replaced with a quick trip to the kitchen table, home office or spare room, we were able to take more control of our time, juggle the work-life balance more efficiently and even be more productive.

But for some bosses, the loss of control was just too much to take.

How did they know we werent spending our working day watching endless re-runs of Cash in the Attic, or out in the garden topping up our tan, or just doing all those odd jobs around the house which we had been putting off.

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Furlough fallout - Time to take responsibility?
Furlough fallout - Time to take responsibility?

Furlough fallout - Time to take responsibility?

The ending of the furlough scheme in a few weeks time is going to bring a period of major change for many people.

For some its likely to bring about redundancy and the search for new work in a hugely difficult market.

For others, the thought of returning to work will be laced with the anxiety of mixing with people again after a long period of relative isolation.

But for another group, the ending of furlough will also mark the end of an extended period where they have become used to literally being paid to do nothing. And there is no doubt that there is now a small group who will resist the return to work because they have simply become accustomed to and feel entitled to the perks of furlough.

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My boss says I must come back into work. Is he right?
My boss says I must come back into work. Is he right?

Just about the most common question we are being asked at the moment relates to returning to work.

With the furlough scheme due to end at the end of October, its likely that many more employees will get a message from their workplace telling them to return to their office, factory or workstation.

But if you are genuinely concerned for your health and wellbeing, do you have to do what your boss is telling you.

Theres no straightforward answer but whatever your situation, the best starting point is to try to engage in an open dialogue with your boss.

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