Human Resources

Tips for LGBT Inclusion in the Workplace

By Human Resources, LGBT Inclusion

LGBT InclusionAs controversial “gay conversion therapies” are to be banned as part of a government plan to improve the lives of gay and transgender people, diversity is a topic that has continues to be a major talking point when it comes to equality in the workplace. Yet some companies are still grappling with defining what this means to their organisation in terms of LGBT inclusions, communicating why diversity is important and finding ways to consistently and meaningfully include diversity as a priority in their overall talent management strategy.


LGBT Inclusion

With more and more Pride events taking place across the UK every year, now is the time to think about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) diversity in your business and to leverage the heightened awareness of Gay Pride to drive home diversity messaging at your workplace.

To this end, Stonewall, is a professional lobbying group that prevents discrimination against the LGBT community, has come up with 10 tips for LGBT inclusion in the workplace.  The organisation states that: “People perform better when they can be themselves, and if you’re looking to make sure that lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people are fully included in your workplace, we’ve got some tips to help.”

Read Stonewall’s top tips here.


If you’re a business owner who wants to improve awareness of diversity in their business, but don’t have an experienced HR team to manage this process, then call HCHR today.  We are an independent consultancy, working with businesses across the UK, to develop internal policies and procedures to ensure that equality and diversity in the workplace is widespread and understood.

LGBT Inclusion

Are Unpaid Trial Shifts Fair?

By Employment Law, Human Resources

It was widely reported in the press last week that job-seekers desperate for work are being asked by multiple employers to do unpaid shifts without any guarantee of employment at the end of it. In some cases, unpaid shifts with some employers added up to more than 40 hours.

As a result of this practice, a group of MPs have called for unpaid trial shifts to be banned in a private members bill that had a second reading last week.

A report in Personnel Today states that:  “The Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Probation) Bill, led by SNP MP Stewart McDonald, seeks to make unpaid shifts – used to determine whether a person has the skills necessary to be offered an employment contract – illegal.

“It said organisations that would like to offer a prospective employee a trial period should pay them at least the national minimum wage.”  Read more here.

It’s usually employers in the leisure industry like bars and restaurants that, after an initial job interview, ask potential employees to come and work a ‘trial shift’ to see if they are up to the job.

Whilst the private members’ bill is being considered, there is not a lot of advice available to potential employees who are asked to work an unpaid shift.  However, ACAS has said that generally an employer does not have to pay you for a trail shift as long as this is truly a trial. It would be possible for employer and trial worker to agree to ‘ a couple of hours’ of unpaid work.

However, problems arise when the work ceases to be a trial and becomes actual employment. So generally, the guidance is that if you are asked to work more than a few hours to prove your worth, you should be paid at least National Minimum Wage.

ACAS also advises workers that it is best to agree payment or expenses in advance, this way you enter into a contract with the employer and so you have the right to be paid anything that is agreed.

At HCHR we are anticipating the result of the bill and its implications on both businesses and workers.

Spotlight on Sexual Harassment

By Human Resources, Sexual harassment

workplace sexual harassmentRecent events as reported widely in the media, along with support for equality and diversity at high profile events like the Oscars, it has become clear that more and more organisations are having to put in place measures to combat sexual harassment in the workplace in order to create an open and trusting organisational structure.

On this note, just last month, Ksenia Zheltoukhova, Head of Research at the CIPD, gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee as part of a one-off session on sexual harassment in the workplace.

Reporting on this event, the CIPD informs us that the session ‘investigated employer responses to reports of sexual harassment, the adequacy of the law, and the advice available to employers and HR professionals.”  Read more here.

The CIPD articles goes on to report that “In the UK, nearly two in three young women have experienced sexual harassment at work, and 79% of all women who have experienced workplace sexual harassment did not tell their employer.”

The reasons for this reluctance to report sexual harassment in the workplace range from the lack of a formal process to a lack of trust in the employer to handle the complaint fairly or correctly.

To this end, employers should be looking at their policies and procedures for reporting and managing complaints of sexual harassment as well as whether they are truly running an open and trusting business.  This issue is not going away; so act now rather than face a problem or claim in the future.

If you’re unclear of how to implement best practice when it comes to managing sexual harassment within your organisation, call us today for advice and guidance on the number below:

International Womens Day


International Women’s Day and Gender Equality

By equal pay, Equality and Diversity, Human Resources

International Women's DayAs International Women’s Day is celebrated across the Globe, the issue of gender equality is at the forefront of our minds more than ever.

We read with interest this article from Business Insider magazine published today (8 March 2018) which highlights the worst countries for women around the world and focusses on the Global Gap Index created by the World Economic Forum (WEF) over 10 years ago.

The article says that:  “The most recent report, published in November 2017, analyses four main dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political representation. Looking at 144 countries, the WEF concludes that an average global gender gap of 32% remains, compared to 31.7% in 2016. Globally, the widest gaps between women and men exist in economic opportunity and political representation.”

Read more here.

Though the examples outlined in this example are extreme, there are still female employees in the UK who are not only affected by issues such as pay discrepancies and advancement to senior positions, but also sexual harassment in the workplace.

So, for all employers, there’s never been a more important time for strong leadership, comprehensive action and an empowering environment. Enabling employees to bring their best selves to work and creating respect for each other will foster an inclusive culture that’s good for both men and women and ultimately your bottom line too.

HCHR works with a number of businesses across the UK  to ensure that equality and diversity are part and parcel of everyday business and integral, not imposed, within an organisation’s culture.  For more information, call us today on the number below:

International Women's Day

Snow Days and Your Rights

By Human Resources

Snow daysWith the ‘Beast from the East’ expected to bring  heavy snowfall across South Wales over the next couple of days, we can all expect some sort of disruption to our lives.  Trains are likely to be cancelled, driving conditions will be hazardous resulting in most schools being closed.

So how are you affected if your travel, workplace or children’s school is affected by the snow and ice?

If your workplace is closed because of disruption and you don’t usually work from home, employers can’t usually deduct pay. Your employer may be in a position to ask you to work from an alternative location or to work from home instead.

If your children’s school is closed for a snow day or your normal childcare arrangements are disrupted, you should have the right for time off to look after them. This needs to be agreed between you and your the employer with as much advance notices as possible.

Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they’re unable to get to work because of bad weather.  To find out more about travel disruption and your rights, visit the Acas website here.

Our main piece of advice to employers and employees is that safety comes first.  Employers shouldn’t expect their employees to put their lives in danger by travelling work in hazardous weather conditions.  You need to offer an alternative as outlined above or agree on a solution that suits both parties.  Employees should similarly not take risks just to get to work.  Be sensible, contact your employer if you can’t make it in and discuss your options.

If you are unclear about your rights as an employer or employee, please contact HCHR on the number below:

snow days


Three New Year Resolutions for Business Owners

By Human Resources

New Year goalsAs a new year begins, the majority of us make at least one or two personal New Year’s resolutions, but have you ever considered making some at work too?

Usually our resolutions involve joining a gym, going on a diet or even making exciting travel plans.  At HCHR now is the time that we start thinking about how we can help our clients to meet their own business goals with a view to becoming more successful.

We’re slightly biased, of course, but human resources resolutions are a great place to start. Best of all, even the smallest of changes in this area can have the greatest of impacts.

Here are our top three New Year Resolutions designed to help you achieve your business goals during 2018.

New Year Resolution 1 – More Face to Face Meetings

Good relationships between employees are very important for a business of any size as a more amiable environment can have a positive impact on productivity.  Sadly, developing relationships is not always a top priority for managers or business owners as more pressing issues such as finances, profits, turnover and other related matters always seem to be more pressing.

Getting to know your employees and clients, and actually enjoying the development of these relationships, will reap huge rewards.  For 2018, make more time for face-to-face meetings with your staff and clients by booking these meetings in your diary at the start of the year and stick to these meeting dates as you would any other business meeting.

New Year Resolution 2 – Outsource the demanding HR tasks

Many small business owners and start-ups find themselves having to become a ‘Jack of all trades’, carrying out their own marketing, book-keeping, admin and HR activities.  However, this may not be the best use of your time, unless you have genuine expertise in any of these areas.

Many UK business owners actually state that HR admin and related tasks tend to be the biggest drain on productivity.  The easy and obvious solution is to outsource this service to an independent HR consultancy like HCHR to take away the stresses of these activities, with the peace of mind that you have experts carrying out this essential work.

For a small business, outsourcing the HR function is a far more cost effective option than taking on a dedicated member of staff (with all of the extra costs that can entail, including management time).  What’s more, you have the option to use an HR consultancy on an ad hoc basis or for a monthly retained fee.

Resolution 3 Recruit and Retain Skills

Recruit in haste repent at leisure.  Ensure that you have a clear recruitment strategy and awareness of the skills gaps within your business. Recruitment isn’t just about sifting through mountains of CVs,

Top-notch talent can always move, even in a tough economy; and HR may be blindsided, and blamed, when top-notch talent leaves.  Help to retain top-notch talent by increasing recognition and appreciation, focusing on problem solving and by discussing career paths without guarantees.

New Year Resolution 3 – Have More Fun 

If you are a business owner, the chances are that your personal and professional life tends to merge into one.  So, it’s even more important than ever to ensure that you take regular breaks and holidays as well as spending time with family and friends.

This doesn’t mean agreeing to requests for leave at any drop of hat; the business has to run effectively and your employees should understand that.  However, you should encourage staff to spread their time off throughout the year and respect their privacy whilst they are away (so don’t bombard them with emails for example).

Work is hard.  But there are a lot of ways that you can infuse (appropriate) fun into the process.  When employees are having fun, they are happier, and happier employees are more productive so they create a better bottom line. So, here’s to a fun 2018!

You should celebrate successes too.  We don’t do enough of this; we just jump to the next crisis.  Celebrating success engenders engagement and all the benefits that go with it. When celebrating, appreciation and recognition are key.

Happy New Year from HCHR

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our clients, associates and suppliers a very happy and prosperous New Year.   Thank you all for making 2017 a huge success for HCHR and long may this continue over the next 12 months.


HR or Henchman?

By Human Resources

Employment Tribunal FeesEmployees across the UK have different views on the role of HR depending on the culture within their employer’s organisation and their direct experience of the HR function.

The views range from seeing the HR team (whether they are an in-house team or a consultancy) as the perfect medium between a company and its employees and a department dedicated to keeping your employees engaged; or a henchmen of the boss, doing all the dirty work for those at the top.

But whose fault is it that when employees interact with HR it’s to fill out forms or because they screwed up?

A recent article in Talent Management and HR online states that:

“It’s the organizational culture’s fault that sees HR as a disciplinarian when HR should be a valued partner to make you successful.

“HR is Not a Dominatrix. Put Down Your Whip” — Lawless is blunt and direct about what needs to be done to change the perception and role of HR. The first step, her “Tool #1,” is for HR to get out of the disciplinary business: “HR is not your henchperson.”  Read more here.

In truth, human resources managers and consultants have many responsibilities within a business. They protect the interests of both employer and employee in a number of different ways.  For employers, they manage employee relations and identify ways to cut employee costs. For employees, HR protects their rights, ensuring that employers operate within the scope of employment law.

For more information about how a consultancy like HCHR can work with your organisation to improve employer-employee relations, please call us on the number below:

Employment right

Changes to Employment Tribunal Fees

By Employment Tribunal Fees, Human Resources

Employment Tribunal FeesThe Supreme Court has, this morning, unanimously ruled that employment tribunal fees are unlawful as they deny access to justice and are indirectly discriminatory to women.

Fees were introduced in 2013, by which an individual would have to pay £250 to lodge a claim, and £950 for the hearing fee. There was a remission scheme in place but only a small minority were able to meet its criteria. As a result of the fee introduction, claims in the Employment Tribunal dropped massively, and over the last four years the Trade Union, has fought against the introduction of fees, getting knocked back along the way by the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Reimbursement of Employment Tribunal Fees

Today’s news means that, for the time being, individuals can now lodge claims without having to pay, with many business owners believing that employment law has swung back in favour of employees.

The Ministry of Justice now has the unenviable task of reimbursing the fees that have been paid over the four-year period, which is said to amount to in the region of £32 million.

What the future holds is currently unclear, with some academics suggesting that the Government will still seek to implement fees but on a much lower scale, and even consider the possibility of employers having to pay a fee to lodge a defense to a claim brought against them.

Further Developments

There is also an ongoing debate as to whether those individuals who were ‘denied access to justice’ over the last four years, as they could not afford the tribunal fees, should now have the opportunity to pursue their claims, with the usual time bars within employment law being waived.

As always we will keep you up to date with any developments.

If you are unsure how this change in legislation could affect you, then please call HCHR today on the number below:

employment tribunal fees

HCHR MD Reaches Finals of Leading Wales Awards

By Human Resources

Shakira Joyner, MD of HCHR,  has been named a finalist in this year’s Leading Wales Awards.

The 2017 Leading Wales Awards (Wales’ long-established and only dedicated leadership awards) in association with The Institute of Leadership and Management have announced this year’s short list.

Shakira has been nominated in the Women in Leadership category for her leadership role in developing HCHR’s client base across Wales, London and the West Midlands; she is one of four finalists in the category.

Barbara Chidgey, Chair of the Leading Wales Awards, said; “The shortlist reflects a very high standard and diverse range of leaders working in all sectors across Wales; our panels of judges will have a tough job on judging day on July 14th. On behalf of the Leading Wales Awards Consortium I would like to thank everyone who made the effort to nominate and share such fantastic examples of “Leaders in Wales”. It’s set to be another very exciting year for Wales’ only leadership awards.”

Add Shakira, “It’s a real honour to be shortlisted in the Women In Leadership category, particular given the pedigree of the other finalists.”

The winners will be announced at the lunchtime awards ceremony, which will take place at the Hilton Cardiff on Thursday 21st September.

Last year, Shakira won the Professional Woman category at the South West Wales Women in Business Awards.

E-cigarettes – Policy Guidelines for Business Owners

By Human Resources, Policies and Procedures

e-cigarettesUncertainty and confusion over where electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) can and cannot be used has increased in recent years with both members of the public and organisations uncertain how to manage their workplace policies.  But despite their popularity, it has been reported that over half of UK businesses don’t have a policy on “vaping” in the workplace.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) supports regulation of electronic cigarettes to ensure they are safe and effective, but organisations should form their own policies on where and when they can be used in a working environment.

E-cigarettes in Public and Worplaces

Says Shakira Joyner, MD of HCHR in Swansea, “A law to regulate the use of electronic cigarettes in the workplace is unlikely.  So business owners need to make clear to staff and customers the approach they are going to take. Any approach should take into account the needs and health of everybody it could affect and consider the relative risks of electronic cigarettes compared to tobacco cigarettes.”

To this end, the UK Government has launched a 5-point guide to policy making on the use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces.  Click here to full the full guide.

If you are still unsure about how to formulate your workplace policy on the use of e-cigarettes, then call HCHR today on the number below.  We have a team of experienced professionals who work with a number of clients from a cross section of industries in developing a range of workplace policies and procedures, including the use of e-cigarettes.

e-cigarettes phone number

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