Archive for the ‘business principles’ Category

Heatwave help: keep your team comfortable & productive

In business principles, health and safety on July 18, 2022 at 9:49 am

As record-breaking heatwave conditions sweep across the country, employers need to be prepared to manage their employees in the heat. Here are a few tips to keep your staff comfortable and productive during a heatwave:

  • Allow for more frequent breaks, and make sure employees have access to plenty of water.
  • Move outdoor work to cooler hours if possible, or provide shade for workers who have to be outside during the day.
  • If possible, let employees work from home or take advantage of any cooling amenities that may be available, such as air conditioning or fans.
  • Encourage employees to dress comfortably in light, loose clothing.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of heat stress, such as dizziness, headaches, or nausea.  If someone does start to feel unwell, move them to a cool area and seek medical help if necessary. Some employees may have conditions that make them more susceptible to heat-related illness.
  • Be aware of potential disruption your employees may have to deal with such as school closures or travel delays.

This kind of heat is exceptional for the UK and will pass; by next week we’ll probably be complaining about the rain! However, in the next days, everyone’s safety and well-being must be the top consideration.

Stress Awareness

In absence, business principles, health and safety on June 20, 2022 at 11:40 am

April was stress awareness month, although, of course, stress can occur at any time throughout the year. As an employer, it’s good to check in on your own stress levels and that of your employees.

It’s not practical to ask every employee if they are stressed and it probably would not give you any real insight into how they really feel; some people hide that they are struggling through fear of seeming incapable and would not want to share this with the boss.

Another way to help with stress in the workplace is to have regular 121’s with your employees. This is essential to keep communication flowing and an opportunity to get an update on work progress and any issues the employee may be experiencing.

Work-related stress can be the result of different causes and with low staffing and absences, those who are in work are often covering for others and may have increased workloads. Without the right support they are at risk of stress. Communicate regularly with your employees, show appreciation for those working hard to keep the business operational. Remind them of the importance of taking a break.

Another good option to help support employees is to have an Employee Assistance Programme. Health Assured are one provider we have worked with.

A Health Assured EAP is considered a strong and cost-effective measure in promoting a healthy mind, body and financially sound workforce. They are becoming very popular with employers as a way to give a welfare benefit to employees. Some of the services are:

  • A true 24/7, 365 in the moment support by a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) accredited counsellors.
  • Up to 6 or 8 sessions of structured telephone, online or face to face counselling sessions, per issue, per year
  • Unlimited access to their very own in-house – legal, financial and medical support teams
  • Active Care- Day 1 intervention for stress-related absences
  • Access to the online portal and mobile app- My Health Advantage offering self-help guides, health checks and 4 week programmes to stay healthy in mind, body and financial state.
  • Work Health Assessments for incoming new members of staff and night worker personnel to receive the required health screening before commencing employment and working outside of daylight hours.

Premiums start from £500 ex VAT based on agreement for up to 57 staff as well as their immediate family members (spouse, partner and dependants 16-24 years old).

This could well be a positive benefit to introduce to employees if you do not already have one. If you are interested please contact your consultant who can provide more information.

If you would like to know more about this topic contact Rob Bryan Associates – 01462 732444 /

Summer Q and A’s

In business principles, discipline and grievance, Employment law, health and safety, holiday on June 20, 2022 at 11:23 am

With the hottest day of the year last week, summer is well and truly underway. But as much as the sun puts a smile on our faces, hot weather can cause issues in the workplace. Here are some of the questions we get asked about summer-time working:   

1. Is it too hot to work?

You may hear from employees, “it’s too hot to work, you have to send us home.” However, the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 state a reasonable temperature must be maintained at work. There is no mention of a maximum! Keep staff cool by allowing them to switch on fans and air conditioning or ‘dress down’ on hotter days if possible. Could outside workers start earlier or later to avoid the midday sun?

2. How do I look after vulnerable employees in extreme weather?

Are any of your employees pregnant or do they have a disability? They may be more affected by hot weather. Have a discussion with them – you may be able to help by allowing them to work in a cooler area, take more frequent breaks, or work from home temporarily.

For some employees, hot weather may exacerbate medical conditions. Don’t jump to conclusions regarding an employee’s sickness absence on a hot sunny day as they may have sunstroke or severe hayfever. We always recommend that you should carry out a return-to-work interview.

3. What about home workers in hot weather?

There’s no expectation that you should install air conditioning in your employees’ homes! However, they should have the same rights as those working in the office. For example, more vulnerable staff should take more breaks, even when working remotely.

Check in with homeworkers and encourage them to put in place measures to keep cool and hydrated – such as ventilation, keeping blinds closed, drinking plenty of water, taking breaks.

If staff working from home feel that the temperature is unreasonable they should speak to their manager about what arrangements can be made.

4. How do I manage holiday requests?

As the sun comes out thoughts turn to holidays. Now is a good time to remind employees of your holiday policies and procedures.

Your mechanisms for handling holiday requests are important, ensuring operational cover and communicating the need for approval before bookings are made and how conflicting requests will be treated i.e., first come first served, or alternating priority for popular periods. Good holiday policies will also consider cancellations, travel disruptions on returning, and what would happen if sickness overlapped with holiday.

5. What do I do if I think my employee is ‘pulling a sickie’ to enjoy the sun?

Employees who are refused a holiday request may take the time off anyway. Alternatively, you may suspect a member of staff is ‘pulling a sickie’ so that they can take advantage of the good weather.

Don’t jump to conclusions – conduct a full investigation into the absence. From here, it may become a disciplinary issue.

6. What if there is travel disruption?

Trains may travel slower in hot weather to prevent the tracks from buckling, or there may be traffic jams due to holidaymakers or tourists.

Employees should also be encouraged to plan ahead for their journeys where it is known that this is likely to be a problem and make allowances for delays.

If you would like to know more about this topic contact Rob Bryan Associates – 01462 732444 /

Preparing the Workforce for Impending Strikes

In absence, business principles, Employment law, government, pay, workers on June 20, 2022 at 11:08 am

Significant travel disruption is expected on 21, 23, and 25th June as members of the RMT Union strike over pay, proposed job cuts, and conditions. The action includes drivers, guards, catering staff, signallers, and track maintenance workers, effectively shutting down the national railway network. It is expected that service will be reduced to a fifth of the normal capacity.

Action point:

If your employees are unable to get to work:

  • What alternatives are there? E.g. work from home, hybrid workers could change their work at home days, agree annual leave, enforce annual leave (this can only be done with twice the length of the annual leave to be enforced eg two days’ notice to enforce one day of annual leave, and so employers looking to do this should do so soon), use banked time in lieu, agree period of flexible working
  • If the employees are to work their contracted hours or use authorised leave they are entitled to be paid as normal

If your employees will be/are late:

  • check what your contracts say about pay/absence
  • Be wary of rounding up’ pay, e.g. when an employee arrives 10 minutes late for an 8.00am shift they will not be paid until 8.30am. Employees may feel this unfair when lateness is due to strikes and it could also be deemed an unlawful deduction of wages. It could also cause pay to dip below National Minimum Wage for lower-paid workers.
  • Employees could be given the option of working the time back.
  • Employers could treat these instances differently to other types of lateness as they are not the employees’ fault and they may not have any other option. Make sure that this approach is applied consistently across the workforce, and be aware that this could set a precedence for future instances.

If care arrangements are affected:

  • Care, child-care settings, and schools may have to close or limit their provision if their staff are adversely affected by the situation. Employees have a statutory right to unpaid time off to care for dependants.
  • If this is likely to be an issue we recommend having a conversation with your employees as soon as possible to see what arrangements can be made.

If you would like to know more about this topic contact Rob Bryan Associates – 01462 732444 /

What’s on your employee’s mind?

In business principles, Equality, family, health and safety, Uncategorized on May 16, 2022 at 10:05 am

Practical advice for supporting Mental Well-being at Work

May is mental health month. The events calendar is full of theme days, weeks months. Why? Well, in order to promote awareness, cultural change and to myth-bust.

A fear of admitting that “I cannot cope” the stigma attached to “breaking down” – surely there is now greater awareness about Mental Health!

But this week, multiple surveys show that most employees wouldn’t talk to their employer about their concerns.

As a forward-thinking employer, wanting to do things in the right way and protecting your business interests, you have probably put some things in place, developed some policies and perhaps even trained some staff.

Training is available for managers. Companies are establishing mental first aiders.

But what’s the point if there is no discussion?

As a busy manager or owner you might be thinking…

I haven’t got time for this,
I wouldn’t know where to start,
it’s personal and private, isn’t it?
these things sort themselves out in the end, won’t they?

I get it. I really do.

As a manager or business owner over the last couple of years you might well be thinking, “well, who’s looking after my well-being, my interests, my health…?

Some Reasons to act
It is highly likely that at some point in time you or members of your team will be significantly impacted by life!

It can happen to anyone – your ‘good’ people are not immune:

life disruptions can happen at any time, without warning
stuff outside of work, can and will, impair concentration, energy, and likely, performance.

This is all a barrier to: productivity, excellence and effective team working.

It leads to absence, mistakes, lost time, poor working relationships, friction and tension within your team with a greater chance of even ending the working relationship.

So, what can I do?

Some practical steps:
Create a space where people can talk
return to work interviews after absence
if you’re not the go-to person, make sure there is a dedicated person who is
decide ahead of time what you and your business can do to support employees
have access to and use a template discussion document such as 9 questions supporting employees

Look out for the signs or any changing behaviours:
dips in performance
mistakes or simple errors
loss of temper or irritability
being away from the desk or the workplace
preoccupied with text messages or phone calls
being withdrawn

Consider homeworkers
Whether by design or necessity work patterns may have changed – this is not for everyone. The changing behaviours above may not be so apparent for home-workers.

consider social break outs for online meetings
onboarding new staff needs special attention

Acknowledge known life events
…relationship breakdown, partner ill-health, concerns about children’s education,
care for elderly relatives, living with a teenager (or returning young adult!),
awaiting healthcare or results of tests, miscarriage, the loss of a loved one.#

We often know about our colleagues and what they are going through. It isn’t surprising that life throws up challenges.

But do we ignore or acknowledge this?

There is real power when an employee can be heard or acknowledged in relation to their situation. For an employee knowing that life does not need to be hidden from their boss can be a huge stress reliever.

Reality: many employees feel isolated, alone or even ashamed that they are struggling.

Providing Support
Right now, financial well-being is the headline topic.

Would you want one of your employees to get into debt with a loan shark, payday loan company or the trending apps freely offering credit at 29.9% APR!

A car repair, a washing machine breakdown, child’s birthday or school uniform.
Any unexpected bill.

1.5 million households are faced with being unable to pay for gas and electric out of disposable income.
What could it mean for your employees to be supported with perhaps a pay advance or interest-free loan, perhaps over 2 or 3 month’s pay? Your business has the power to make the difference.

Finally, this week I made a discovery. It is possible for an employer with 1 to 57 employees to buy in help and support for every member of staff.

I thought these programmes were for Large co, and not viable for smaller businesses.

However, for a single annual premium of £500 Health Assured offer an employee assistance programme covering up to 57 employees. That means your employees can get help and assistance as and when they need it on a wide range of concerns and problems.

The headline for me: if your employee goes to their GP and they cannot cope, the only tool in the bag is medication and a 6 month wait for counselling. An employee assistance programme will allow many many more options. And as for counselling, any of your employees can have access all within a fixed premium.

The employee gets the support they need, when they need it.

As a for your business, you are not doing it alone.

RBA supports many clients in the 1-57 employee category. Our clients tell us that our expert advice provided through a dedicated named contact gives them exactly what they need when they need it.

If you require further information on mental health in the workplace, the essential discussions to have with your employees, how to implement return to work policies was set up a mental health first aid scheme – then why not arrange a FREE NO OBLIGATION Discovery Call with us today.

If you’re thinking of making pay advances or setting up loans. You need to be putting in some contractual agreements to allow you to make deductions from pay.

As a thank you for reading this email today – Here is our FREE framework document.

If you would like details of our training course – THE ESSENTIAL DISCUSSIONS – please contact us to register your interest.

Finally, if you’ve never thought of an employee assistance programme before but would like to know more, RBA have access to preferential rates with Health Assured. For more details click on the link.

Thank you for taking time to read this post. We hope you found it useful.

Rob Bryan

The Flexible Working Headache for Small Businesses

In business principles, contracts, covid-19, Flexible Working on May 3, 2022 at 8:50 am

This week news emerged of Jacob Rees-Mogg demanding civil servants return to the workplace (about 44% had already done so). The FT (17 Feb) and Standard (17 March) reported London occupancy rates at their highest level of return.

JP Morgan, after stating that home working was “an unwelcomed distraction”, has now relaxed its return policy following pushback from staff. 

A Bloomberg report this week headlined “Workers are winning the battle” when it comes to returning.

I believe for small business owners – this is a perfect illustration of when NOT to follow Large Co models and trending news.

Your business will have key essential functions and tasks that need to be done well, consistently, and in a productive and profitable way. ANYTHING that gets in the way of that should be repelled. 

Why? Because if you operate against that first principle, however well-meaning, the outcome may not help your business.

There is no single solution. Not all job roles are the same.

What’s needed:

  • Talking with individuals 
  • Aligning joint expectations
  • Refocusing on PPP (post pandemic priorities)
  • Naming where you are – about to reorganise, in a transition stage or fixing a new game plan.

You are busy, there will be many pressures on YOUR TIME and ENERGY


If you haven’t currently nailed this – you could be facing huge friction:

  • Your profitability, 
  • Strained working relationships and
  • Inevitably, a personal headache.

NEXT STEP…. Book in those discussions with your team, (or get your managers to do this for you). Clarity will pay dividends.

Rob Bryan

Managing Covid guidance in the workplace

In absence, business principles, covid-19, Employment law, government, health and safety on March 21, 2022 at 11:46 am

The government has removed the legally mandatory requirement for people in England with Covid to self-isolate. The legislation was removed with guidance taking its place from 24 February.

Following this announcement rates of infection across the whole of the UK have dramatically risen. For employers, working with guidance is potentially more difficult. Many questions arise in relation to how a business can protect itself, how to manage sickness absence and related pay, what testing should take place and how risks should be managed.

Not all workplaces are the same. Employers are advised to consider their own risk assessments, and this will mean assessing the spread of a contagious disease, the dangers arising and the potential consequence for anyone exposed to the risk, such as employees, customers or contractors. Although the word advised is used, all employers have legal obligations to carry out risk assessment in relation to all of their business activities. Specific separate guidance applies to employers in health care settings.

Guidance (see link to

Guidance in relation to self-isolation for the first 5 days states that employees should remain away from work. The guidance also advocates testing and managing the risk of returning to the workplace from days 5 to 10.

Sick Pay

On 24 March, entitlement to statutory sick pay will revert to the pre-pandemic rules. This means statutory sick pay is payable on day 4 of absence and will require an employee to actually be sick or incapacitated from work, rather than “affected by Covid”. So SSP will no longer cover for isolation in the home for looking after someone who is isolating.


Without a regime of free testing, identifying sources of potential infection will rely on self-reported symptoms. For some there are no symptoms. For any business identifying a critical need for preventing workplace contagion, testing will need to continue. From 1 April free tests are expected to be withdrawn.

The combination of removing an incentive to remain away from the workplace and the means of identifying potential spread makes managing this situation harder. For businesses impact assessments highlighting critical delivery of services, general workplace safety or the protection of vulnerable people, management of this issue will be of vital importance.

Where a business can justify testing and the enforcement of isolation, nothing in the government’s announcement changes or interferes with the employer’s ability to manage its workplace and workforce. Mandatory testing for employees may be justified and indeed essential. Some employers are contemplating amendments to their sickness and absence policies to pay sick pay in support of effectively monitoring and managing the business risks.

Special situations

Some employees will have concerns for their personal welfare. This may be an underlying medical condition, a fear of working in close proximity to others, travelling in crowded spaces and perhaps concerns of passing Covid to other vulnerable members of their family or household. The government’s announcement, together with “living with Covid” and returning to normal, will have an adverse impact on some employees. The ongoing advice for employers remains discussing specific arrangements with individuals and identifying, where possible, practical alternatives to office space working or rush-hour travelling.

In summary we suggest:

1. Making an updated and current assessment of COVID infection risk within your workplace activities and those people impacted by your work

2. Communicate the measures you have and are going to put in place along with any options for alternative working arrangements, potentially with a review date

3. Consider how COVID-related sickness absence will be treated together with any company sick pay support and options for alternative working and communicate

*the changes from 24 March do not affect Wales or Scotland, you may have to consider separate approaches across your business in these areas.

Repeal of vaccination as a condition of employment

In business principles, contracts, covid-19, Employment law, government, health and safety, Uncategorized on March 7, 2022 at 1:29 pm

The Government is proceeding with revoking vaccination as a condition of deployment (VCOD) in all health and social care settings.

The regulations revoking VCOD in all health and social care settings will come into force on 15 March 2022.

The Government is still strongly encouraging social care staff to take the vaccine.

The operational guidance, Covid-19 Vaccination of People Working or Deployed in Care Homes applies to regulated activity in a care home, i.e., the provision of accommodation together with nursing or personal care, and all professionals and tradespeople who enter these settings, now reflects this decision.

The Government’s response stated: “In light of this latest scientific evidence and having considered the views received as part of the consultation, as well as an analysis of equalities impacts the Government will bring forward regulations to revoke vaccination as a condition of deployment.

“The regulations will revoke the requirements that CQC registered persons only permit those who are vaccinated against Covid-19, unless otherwise exempt, to be deployed for the provision of a CQC-regulated activity in health and/or social care, and to enter CQC registered care home premises.”

Spring Newsletter 2022

In business principles, contracts, Employment law, government, health and safety, holiday, pay, Uncategorized, workers on February 28, 2022 at 11:04 am

Our latest newsletter brings you news and views from our HR experts on:

  • The Employment Bill
  • Setting Business Goals
  • Employment Status
  • Right to Work Checks
  • The Jubilee Bank Holiday
  • Updates to national insurance and statutory rates
  • Recent cases of interest

Join our mailing list

Business Goals

In business principles, Uncategorized on February 16, 2022 at 1:06 pm
Notepad with a heading 'Goals'

Many businesses set goals and intentions for the year ahead and for these to succeed it is important to get your team on board. Below are some tips to help ensure your business goals are achieved in 2022.  

  • Communication – Your team are instrumental in making your business goals a success, meaning that transparency and good communication are vital. Working on improving these areas of management can also increase employee happiness, productivity, and loyalty. 

  • Effective Management – Are your manager’s effective in managing their teams. Have they had any management training? Its essential to ensure that your management understand your policies and procedures to enable them to effectively manage your people. Consider a management training programme as part of their development.  Now is a good time to review areas of professional development and align training programmes with your business goals.  

  • Processes – Many businesses are still temporarily facilitating working from home. Will this be the year that you make it permanent? Or perhaps you’re leaning towards hybrid working? Whichever you decide, it’s important to have the right processes in place to assist your team. Also more importantly it is essential to ensure any contractual changes are dealt with properly and the appropriate employment documents are in place.  

  • Well-being – Workplace absences related to poor mental health have increased since the pandemic began. A commitment to well-being can keep your team healthy and on the road to success. You may wish to consider setting up an EAP scheme (Employee Assistance Programme) which allows employees to get support and assistance for any issues and concerns both in and outside of the workplace. These schemes often have counselling services and can assist with sickness issues and getting the employee back to work more promptly.  

If you need assistance with any of the above areas, we would be pleased to arrange a discussion with you.