Whisper it quietly, but Christmas is fast approaching. I know it barely seems a couple of months since the last festive bash, but offices around the country are already gearing up for the annual Christmas shindig. They can, of course, be great occasions. Run properly they are good for morale, good for breaking down barriers and a chance for your staff to see a slightly more human side of their boss. But run badly, they can turn into an HR and employment disaster area.
We’ve all worked in situations where our colleagues rub us up the wrong way. Going into work can be a miserable experience if we know we are going to spend the whole day sat next to the office moaner spouting an endless diatribe of negativity. Equally, if we have to work with the office know-it-all for extended periods, even the most patient of us can start to feel a little weary. But most of the time we recognise that such tensions are a natural part of life and so we keep our head down, smile and get on with doing the best job we can. But what happens when those at the top of a company cannot bear to work with each other?
All present and correct? Not necessarily…. New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of lost working days due to absence in the UK has fallen to a record low. It seems the average UK worker took just 4.1 sick days last year, compared to a whopping 7.2 days in 1993. That must be good news for both employers and employees, right? Fewer days off means extra productivity for the boss, whilst more time at work would seem to indicate a fitter, healthier workforce. Well, as ever with these things, there is a hidden story to these statistics. And that hidden story can be found in the rise of what is known as presenteeism. Put simply, more and more of us are hauling ourselves in to the office when we are not really up to it.
Its a fact of life that people get sick and will need time off from work. Any organisation worth its salt will build a contingency for absence into its day-to-day operation and have policies in place to make sure absences are managed properly. And yet this is still an area where companies and their staff often come into conflict. But if you follow a few basic guidelines that need not be the case.
The pace of change in life has never been greater. Think of the changes the creation and growth of the internet have brought about in the last 20 years and the modern-day workplace is now unrecognisable from what it was 20 years ago. And whilst change can often be a good thing, it can also be a deeply unsettling experience for employees if it is not handled well. We’ve all had experience of changes being rushed through an organisation with little communication, leading to an inevitable breakdown in trust and morale on the shop floor.
Looking forward to this year’s office Christmas party? Of course you are. It’s a great chance to let your hair down, get to know your colleagues a bit better and build up a bit of team spirit. And if you get the chance to have the odd drink or two into the bargain, so much the better. But here’s a statistic which may just be worth bearing in mind before you unleash yourself fully onto your workmates.
There are few of us who haven’t made mistakes in our lives. For some, this might have meant falling foul of the law and picking up a criminal record. And of course, this can be a real cause of stress and worry when it comes to finding a job. We are frequently asked if a job applicant must disclose a criminal record if they have one. The short answer is yes – if they are asked about it. But there is no legal obligation to offer details of a criminal record if the interviewer does not ask.
Constructive dismissal: What you need to know. Mike is not popular with his boss. Although he works hard and to a good standard, he frequently criticises management and is regarded by his colleagues as a negative influence in the factory at which he works. So when, without warning, he is moved from day to night shifts and told he must take it or leave it, Mike puts in a claim for constructive dismissal. He argues that his employer has changed his terms of employment without notification simply to get rid of him and wins his case at an Employment Tribunal. If Mike’s case sounds familiar to you, it might be that a claim for constructive dismissal is something you should consider.
When is being at work not being at work? Sounds like a daft question doesn’t it? But a recent Court of Appeal ruling has thrown the issue up in the air and made life a lot more uncertain for a huge number of workers. The case revolved around the rights of care workers who have to spend the night at their client’s homes, sleeping in so that they are on hand in the event of an emergency.
One of the greatest changes at work in the last 20 years has been the growing acceptance of flexible working patterns. Long gone are the days when we all clocked in at 9am and knocked off at 5pm regardless of the demands of family and personal life. And with growing diversity in the workplace, and the welcome acceptance of women as an equal and valued part of the workforce, it’s never been more important for companies to recognise the need for flexibility in their working patterns. So, if you want to adjust your work-life balance, how should you go about asking your employer? The first thing to recognise is that if you have caring responsibilities – whether for elderly parents, your children, disabled relatives or other dependents – there are legal rights in place to help ensure you can meet them whilst still holding down a job.
You can’t help but have heard about zero hours contracts. At its heart is a pretty simple idea. You sign a contract with an employer which means they don’t have to provide you with a minimum number of working hours and you get the right to turn down any offer if you want to. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of people on zero hour contracts in the UK increased by around 100,000 last year, to stand at around 1.8million. As more and more of us come into contact with these contracts, it’s important we know what they are all about. So, here’s a look at some of the most commonly asked questions around the issue.