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5
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Menopause Policies in the Workplace

The conversation around menopause in the workplace has been amplified recently, with weekly press reports stating that an increasing number of companies are taking steps to support employees who are going through menopause.

A major high street retailer announced in March that they would be paying for employees’ hormone replacement therapy (a common treatment for severe menopause symptoms). Additionally, a large media company is offering access to menopause resources and desk fans for women suffering from hot flushes.

Creating an environment supportive of women going through menopause is particularly important in the context of retaining senior women in the workplace. Recent research reported that almost a fifth of women with menopausal or peri-menopausal symptoms took more than eight weeks’ leave, and half of these women resigned or took early retirement.

A recent poll conducted in March 2022 revealed that 72% of companies do not currently have a menopause policy in place and only 16% of businesses train line managers on how to address the menopause at work. Given the increasing number of queries we are responding to on this topic, we expect these statistics to change significantly this year, as employers are to place greater emphasis on supporting those going through menopause at work.

Bright Contracts has a Menopause Policy available in the 'Terms & Conditions' section of the company handbook.

Related Articles:

Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Menopause in the Workplace

 

Posted in Company Handbook, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

10
Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Menopause in the Workplace

As it currently stands, under the Equality Act 2010, menopause discrimination is largely covered under three protected characteristics: age, sex and disability discrimination. If an employee is treated unfairly due to menopause, this may amount to discrimination because, for example, of their sex and/or disability, and/or their age.

Menopause Awareness Month has shone some light on the impact that the menopause can have in the workplace. And shockingly according to a recent survey, fewer than 50% of companies provide any support for perimenopausal or menopausal staff. The menopause affects us all at work. Even if we do not experience menopausal symptoms ourselves, we will inevitably have colleagues who do.

While the menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, the NHS estimates that around one in 100 affected people will experience a premature menopause before the age of 40. Menopause can be also triggered by medical or surgical interventions, such as some cancer treatments or a hysterectomy, and can therefore affect employees of all ages.

It is estimated that three out of four people going through the perimenopause or menopause experience symptoms that can last several years. There are over 30 recognised symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause, with a number of these relating to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings and problems with memory and confidence. It is unsurprising, therefore, that menopause can have a significant impact on an individual’s performance at work.

The ongoing stigma and lack of education around menopause can lead to bullying and harassment in the workplace. Many employees report that they do not talk about their menopause at work because they feel embarrassed, are concerned they will not be supported, will be treated less favourably or viewed as less capable than before. This can create or exacerbate workplace issues and evidence suggests that a number of those experiencing the menopause or perimenopause leave the workplace altogether.

What is clear is that discrimination and harassment at work can worsen menopausal symptoms of stress and anxiety. Similarly, negative or discriminatory attitudes can make it less likely that individuals from these groups will be open about their status, any difficulties they are experiencing, or seek help.

Given that every person’s experience of the menopause is different, there is no exhaustive list of reasonable adjustments that could be made to the workplace environment, and employers will always need to consult with the individual employee and seek occupational health or other medical evidence where appropriate.

Adjustments could include the following:

- increased ventilation
- better access to toilet/washing facilities
- adjusting working time rules/break times
relaxing uniform policies
adjusting inflexible policies which can penalise those experiencing symptoms (eg absence management or performance-related targets).

So how can employers go about improving the workplace for employees who are undergoing the menopause, particularly when many employees are not willing to disclose details of the condition and the symptoms they are experiencing?

Firstly, employers should consider implementing a workplace policy that covers issues such as flexible working, sickness and performance management, and identifying sources of support.

Training is also important to educate, increase awareness and empower managers to feel confident in talking to and supporting employees who are experiencing symptoms of menopause. Management should consider buddying and mentoring schemes and/or established points of contact - perhaps utilising staff who have been through the menopause - to provide encouragement and support.

All of these steps should encourage employees to feel more comfortable about being open about their symptoms, and to continue to reach their potential by discussing what adjustments they may need.

Bright Contracts has a Menopause Policy available in the 'Terms & Conditions' section of the company handbook. To view a sample of the policy you can download a trial version of the software here.

Related Articles:

Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

Let's Talk About Family Leave

Posted in Company Handbook, Employment Law

15
Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Buzz About Carer's Leave

This month the Government confirmed that it will introduce a 'day one' right to statutory carer’s leave. The new entitlement to statutory carer’s leave will:

1. be available to the employee irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer (a day one right);

2. rely on the carer’s relationship with the person being cared for  – a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care; and

3. depend on the person being cared for having a long-term care need. This would be defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), a disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age. There would be limited exemptions from the requirement for long-term care, for example in the case of terminal illness.

What can the leave be used for?

Personal support, helping with official or financial matters, or accompanying someone to medical and other appointments.

How can the leave be taken?

Either as a single block of one week, or more flexibly in individual days.

How are employee's to notify their employer?

The notice requirement will be in line with that of annual leave, the employee must give notice that is twice the length of time being requested as leave, plus one day in order to enable employers to manage and plan for absences. Employers will be able to postpone, but not deny, the leave request for carer’s leave on grounds that the employer considers that the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted. Employers will be required to give a counter-notice if postponing the request to take Carer’s Leave.

Is there protections for those undertaking carer's leave?

Those taking carer's leave will be protected from suffering a detriment for having done so, and dismissals for reasons connected with exercising the right to carer's leave will be automatically unfair.

When will carer's leave be introduced?

According to gov.uk this right will be introduced into legislation when Parliamentary time allows. In the meantime employers should start to prepare a written policy to introduce this new requirement once introduced.

Related Articles:

Annual Leave Post Covid

Care Home Workers & Mandatory Vaccinations: The New Regulations

Posted in Annual Leave, Company Handbook, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Employment Update

11
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

2021 has been a year of big change for everyone and has given rise to many different topics of conversation, a vitally important topic is that of menopause among the female workforces. Media outlets across the UK have been discussing menopause and from these discussions it has been said that ‘The menopause is where mental health was 10 years ago’. A statement which could not be more true. These discussions have brought to the surface the realisation that menopause is considered a taboo subject, like mental health was and like mental health we are not educated enough in what menopause is, the symptoms of it and how we can help those going through menopause which is why it is so important for employers to educate their workforce and to recognise the importance of supporting women in the workplace who are transitioning through menopause which is why we believe it is vitally important for organisations to implement a menopause policy as we believe it needs to be acknowledged and recognised as an important occupational issue requiring supports to be made available.

To ensure that companies show a positive attitude towards the menopause, we want to encourage employers to create an atmosphere where women feel there are colleagues with whom they can comfortably discuss menopausal symptoms and that they can ask for support and adjustments in order to work safely and without fear of negative repercussions. For this reason, the menopause is an issue for men as well as women. So let’s touch on the basics of menopause by answering the simple question, ‘What is menopause?’ Menopause is a natural stage of life when a woman’s estrogen levels decline and she stops having periods. As menopausal symptoms are typically experienced for several years, it is best described as a ‘transition’ rather than a one-off event. The menopause typically happens between age 45 and 55. The ‘perimenopause’ is the phase leading up to the menopause, when a woman’s hormone balance starts to change. For some women this can start as early as their twenties or as late as their late forties.

There are various symptoms that can be experienced through menopause and can be both physical and/or psychological. They can include: hot flushes, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, memory lapses, anxiety, depression and heart palpitations and each of these symptoms can affect an employee’s comfort and performance at work which is why we developed our menopause policy to ensure you are assisting your female employees in their daily duties. In order to assist those experiencing these symptoms in their daily duties, it is important that your company menopause policy explores making reasonable accommodations to the individuals role or working environment with the aim of reducing the effect that the menopause is having on the individual which is explored in our new menopause policy available on Bright Contracts today! We are committed to ensuring appropriate support and assistance is provided to female employees and that exclusionary or discriminatory practices will not be tolerated. Our menopause policy is fully compliant with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work etc. Act 1974 as well as the Equality Act 2010.

Check out your Bright Contracts today to view the update, or if you would like to become a Bright Contracts user you can download the software and purchase a licence today.
To access the update, log out of your Bright Contracts company file and log back in, you will then see a yellow bar across the top of the page asking you if you would like to upgrade the content.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Company Handbook, Customer Update, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Software Upgrade, Staff Handbook

13
Jun 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Why am I getting all these emails about privacy??

Lately you may have noticed your inbox bulging each morning with lots of emails with similar subject lines to these;


“Your privacy = our priority”                   “GDPR Data Protection – Your Data is Safe with us”
“Big Changes are coming”                        “Opt-In to continue receiving our great updates”
“GDPR update – please don’t leave us!”  “We’re keeping your details safe”


New, tougher European regulations around privacy and the use of personal data have now come into force and could see companies hit with huge fines if found to be in breach of the new laws.
In order for personal data to be processed lawfully, the processor must be able to rely on the reasoning being at least one of 6 categories, the main one being Consent. So if you were previously signed up with a company to receive newsletters or emails about special offers, they can no longer continue to send you these without your explicit consent.
Previous Data Protection Legislation allowed for an option to ‘Opt-Out’ as being sufficient means to mark having your consent, however with the new GDPR this is no longer the case. Consent must be ‘freely given’ unambiguous’ and for a ‘specific purpose’. Consent must be easily read and clearly distinguishable from other text and evidence must be collected as to how consent was obtained.
Consent can no longer be assumed and the likes of pre-ticked boxes that would have needed to be unticked if you didn’t want to register are now banned. Also the facility to Unsubscribe must be clear and an easy procedure to follow.
So all the emails you have been receiving, like those listed above, are those companies that you may previously have signed up with, scrambling to cover themselves for GDPR and not wanting to lose you as a possible customer or sale.


For more information on GDPR and how it may affect your organization, please see our dedicated online support documentation here.

 

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Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract

16
Apr 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Tribunal claims up 90% since abolition of fees

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has published figures showing a massive 90% increase in single claims lodged at employment tribunals in the last quarter of 2017 compared to the last quarter of 2016 - the Supreme Court ruled tribunal fees to be ‘unlawful’ during last summer and abolished them going forward.

The MOJ has cited the reversal of fees as the cause of this rise in cases, as employees are no longer put off making claims and using the tribunal process.

The most recent quarter has also shown a 467% increase in multiple claims, filed by more than one complainant. Some of the major supermarkets, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda have all faced multiple pay claims in the last few months, with Tesco facing up to £4bn in fines from a single group claim.

With the abolition of the tribunal fees came a refund scheme which saw 3,337 claims processed for refunds of fee payments to the value of nearly £2.8m between October and December 2017. There is four years worth of fee payments that could be claimed for refund, adding to the growing headache that is the whole tribunal fee’s debacle.

All of this is putting significant pressure on the tribunals who had, after the fee’s were originally introduced, reduced staff numbers and had their funding cut, is now having to deal with huge backlogs and delays. The increase in employment tribunal claims since the removal of the tribunal fees indicates just how important it is for employer’s to have in place proper policies and fair procedures in relation to their employee / employer relationship.

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here.
To download your free trial of Bright Contracts click here.

 

BrightPay - Payroll and Auto Enrolment Software
Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Customer Update, Dismissals, Employment Tribunals

1
Feb 18

Posted by
Lauren Conway

£250,000 holiday back-pay paid out to construction workers

Over 100 construction workers are to receive an estimated £250,000 worth of holiday pay following a Unite campaign which ruled that voluntary overtime should be included in holiday pay.

Background

Workers across three high profile projects in London were paid holiday pay based on 39 hours a week whereas in reality they often worked 55 hours a week working overtime on Saturdays. The workers have secured payment of between £400 and £1,000 each with further back payments to be received after joining forces to demand their full holiday entitlement.

The construction workers were initially ignored when they brought the issue to Byrnes Bros management, until construction workers at different sites, backed by Unite, joined forces and commenced a campaign which developed into a collective grievance. Management then tried to deal with the grievances individually but workers insisted on a collective remedy to the underpayments. Management accepted that overtime should have been included in holiday pay and Byrne Bros are now in the process of paying each worker what they are owed including back pay.

Learning Points

The decision to accept fault comes as no surprise after the landmark ruling by the employment appeal tribunal in the Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council v Willetts (and others) case in July 2017. The case was the first to confirm that employers must include normal voluntary overtime when calculating holiday pay and it set a legally binding precedent which employment tribunals across the UK are obliged to follow. The pressure is now on for employers who still do not include overtime in holiday pay to urgently reconsider; otherwise they are at risk of being brought in front of the Employment Tribunal.


To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free trial of Bright Contracts click here

Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals

4
Dec 17

Posted by
Marzena Ignar

Does my employee need a written statement of employment?

The main purpose of the written statement of employment, often referred to as the contract of employment, is to clarify the terms of a person’s employment and avoid uncertainty or misunderstandings, where employee expectations might not be the same as employer intentions.

All employers must provide an employee with a written statement of their terms of employment within 2 months of commencement of employment, including full-time staff, part-time staff, fixed-term and casual workers.

The written statement must include the following information:

  • The full name of employer and employee
  • The address of the employer
  • Place of work
  • Job title or nature of work
  • The date the employment started
  • Type of contract
  • Rate of pay
  • Pay intervals
  • Hours of work
  • Paid leave
  • Incapacity for work, sick pay 
  • Any terms relating to a pension scheme
  • Period of notice to be given by employer or employee
  • Details of any collective agreements
  • Pay reference period

Additional clauses can be recommended to further clarify the relationship. These might include:

  • Probation clause
  • Pay in lieu of notice clause
  • Confidentiality clause
  • Right to search 
  • The calculation of holiday pay

Failure to to provide contracts of employment could leave you wide open to a claim from their employees. Employers found not to have written terms of employment in place will be fined a maximum of 4 weeks’ remuneration per employee. Clearly worded contracts of employment are key to the success of any business. They will ensure your business is on the right side of employment law as well as help prevent disputes with employees.

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free trial of Bright Contracts click here

 

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Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Records, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook, Workplace Relations Commission, WRC

17
Nov 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Be careful of discrimination in job interviews

Having a wide range of interview questions is vital to find out as much information about a candidate as possible to assess whether they have the right skills and attributes for the role. When conducting an interview you may veer off your pre-set questions when building rapport with a candidate and to do a little digging in some areas, however asking the wrong question could leave you at risk of a hefty discrimination claim.

Marital and family status, sexual orientation

Although it may seem friendly asking if a candidate has a family or children it is not suitable for an interview. Asking such questions may leave you appearing more favorable to someone who may seem more stable or someone who might not have family commitments.

Do you have or plan on having children? What childcare arrangements do you have?

The job may require some overtime at short notice. What days/hours are you available to work? Can you travel?

Place of birth, race, religious beliefs

Again, employers may think they are being friendly asking questions like: where are you from originally? Or do you get to visit home often? But be warned that any questions surrounding birthplace, background or religious beliefs can lead to discrimination.

Where were you born? What religion do you practice?

Are you eligible to work in Ireland? What languages do you speak or write fluently?

Gender, age

Asking a candidate questions about their gender or age in relation to their ability to do a particular role is discrimination. If there are certain challenges to a role you may certainly ask about their ability to handle those situations but never imply that their gender or age may affect this.

We’ve always had a man/woman in this role. Do you think you can handle it? How many years do you think you’ll have left until you retire?

What can you bring to this role? What are your long term goals?

Location, disability, illness

You may think asking questions regarding where a candidate lives and how far/long it will take to commute to work is innocent but asking these questions could cause discrimination relating to a neighborhood heavily populated by an ethnic group or social class. Also asking questions around gaps in a candidate’s employment is acceptable, but asking questions around a disability and how it may affect their capabilities to do a job is not.

How far would your commute be? Do you smoke/drink?

Are you able to start at 9 am? Have you ever been disciplined due to alcohol/drugs?

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free trial of Bright Contracts click here

Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Discrimination, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals

6
Nov 17

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

How to Avoid Harassment in the Workplace

The recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein in the US have created somewhat of a snowball effect worldwide with thousands of women and men speaking out about their accounts of sexual harassment and assault, many of them being work related. Allegations involving high profile individuals and people in authority have demonstrated just how widespread a problem this has become across all industries and professions and has exposed a sinister culture of silence, fear and acceptance which we must now turn on its head.

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 prohibits sexual harassment, defined as conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating the victim’s dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Examples might include unwelcome sexual advances, displaying pornographic images, or sending emails containing material of a sexual nature.

Employers in the UK are responsible for their employees’ actions in the course of their employment, even if such actions are taken without the employer’s knowledge or approval. Employers should be able to demonstrate that all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from taking discriminatory action were taken, in order to build a successful defense.

Employers are therefore compelled to take steps to ensure a harassment-free work environment. Effectively organisations must set down clearly defined procedures to deal with all forms of harassment including sexual harassment.

There are a number of steps an employer can take to help prevent this type of behavior from occurring in the workplace:

A Bullying and Harassment policy

  •  to protect the dignity of employees and to encourage respect in the workplace

An Equal Opportunities policy

  • to create a workplace which provides for Equal Opportunities for all staff

A Whistleblowing policy

  • to enable staff to voice concerns in a responsible and effective manner.

Transparent and fair procedures throughout

Disciplinary action

  • A sanction that is appropriate for the level of alleged harassment – to help try and change the culture of silence that has allowed harassment to become normal and protected.

Provision of on-going training

  • At all levels within organisation

Bright Contracts has a fully customisable Staff Handbook, which includes a Bullying and Harassment Policy and also an Equality Policy and Whistleblowing Policy.

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free Bright Contracts trial click here

Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Company Handbook, Dismissals, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook

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