Should your company have a policy regarding domestic abuse?
You might think its an unnecessary question. Its domestic abuse, so it has nothing to do with work. Right?
But you couldnt be more wrong.
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that an estimated 1.3 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2018.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lockdown has been a pretty gruelling affair for almost all of us.
The ever-present fear of the virus, long periods of isolation for many, disruption to schools and colleges and the need to adjust to new working practices or being on furlough has taken a toll across the nation.
But for the millions of people who have been and are the victims of domestic abuse, being locked down with their abuser is almost unimaginably awful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.