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Sep 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Cost of Living Crisis: What Should I do Next?

The cost-of-living crisis is affecting us all, however, employers need to take action to help employees who may be struggling. Every employer has a legal duty to look out for the health and safety of its employees, and if employees make it known that they are struggling because of this employer need to take the next step.

Increasing Salaries

Many larger employers have made the news recently by announcing that they will be increasing salaries, paying one-off bonuses, or making home energy cost contributions. An example of this, Barclays, is rewarding 35,000 of its staff a pay rise from 1st August. However, it is understood that this is not feasible for all businesses.

Legally, there is no obligation on employers to raise employees’ salaries in response to the cost-of-living crisis. Employers should look at non-financial ways of helping staff.


It’s important for employers to recognise that the crisis will affect different employees in different ways. A good first step would be to ensure that there is good communication between you and the employees so that they are encouraged to voice their concerns and issues. Only after listening to employees can an employer understand what solutions the right ones are.

Home or Hybrid working

Some employers are repositioning home or hybrid working flexibility as a solution to the cost-of-living crisis because of the saving on commuting costs rather than a more traditional work-life balance solution. It’s important that an employee’s contract is updated or varied to reflect their true current working arrangements.
Bright Contracts software has a hybrid working policy in the “Terms and Conditions” section of the handbook which is completely editable to your business’ needs.

Posted in Hybrid Working

Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Four Negative Workplace Factors Harming Retention

New research has identified the biggest negative habits harming employee satisfaction. Employees have been turning to Google for advice on coping with a negative working environment.

Let’s look at the four negative workplace factors that are harming retention.

Lack of career development opportunities

Over the last 12 months, there has been a huge increase in the number of google searches for ‘work progression’. Lack of progression and development opportunities at work can influence employee satisfaction and motivation levels. Some employees feel there is no more room to grow in their current role or opportunities to learn new skills which can negatively impact their well-being at work.

Employers should look to coach and develop their team’s skillset, building on each employee's individual strengths so they can reach their potential. Encouraging your team to develop their skills supports employee wellbeing, resulting in an engaged and motivated team.

Poor Recognition and Reward Systems

Google searches for ‘rewards in the workplace’ have increased by over 65% in the last year. Employees’ motivation can be increased with workplace rewards as they act as an acknowledgment of the employee’s behaviour.

Rewards don’t always need to be financial to be beneficial. A simple thank you or sharing news of an employee’s achievement can provide a team member with the recognition they deserve.

Limited access to health and wellbeing services

In the last year, there has been a 50% increase in the number of Google searches for ‘health and wellbeing in the workplace’. Employers need to place a greater emphasis on supporting their employee’s health needs. Whether it’s providing medical and dental cover or having access to mental health services through an EAP scheme, there are many ways employers can provide health benefits. In return, businesses will benefit from a healthy, happy, and motivated workforce.

Workplace Culture

A company’s working environment can have a huge impact on employee wellbeing, job satisfaction, and engagement. Negative workplace culture can be influenced by a lack of communication, a tense atmosphere, poor management, and a lack of work-life balance. Negative workplace cultures can lead to a higher staff turnover and impact your ability to attract and retain employees.

It's important for employers to listen to employees. Having focus groups or meetings with employees to get feedback will give you an indication of what your business is doing right and what needs to be improved.

Statistics have been provided by HR Director.

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Five Steps to Building a Positive Recognition Culture

Wellbeing at Work


Posted in Health & Safety, Hybrid Working

Jul 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

How to Conduct a Risk Assessment for Remote Workers

Given the increase of remote and hybrid workers in the workforce, it is important to make sure you know how to conduct a risk assessment for remote workers. The usual health and safety duties extend to those working remotely and include identifying risks, ensuring workstation assessments are carried out and providing appropriate training.

Most people working from home are office workers which means it is a lower risk from a health and safety perspective, however, issues such as stress, fatigue, and poor posture can pose real dangers to homeworkers.

Risk assessments for remote workers

It is your duty as an employer to conduct risk assessments for remote and hybrid workers. The process of carrying out your risk assessment will be different. For example, you may not be able to visit the employees’ homes to carry it out, however, you may ask them to do a risk assessment themselves or send you a picture of their workspace.

Once your employees’ home workplace is passed as safe, it is their responsibility to ensure that it has been kept that way. However, the risk assessment must be reviewed periodically or whenever you have reason to believe that the risks may have changed.

Hazards to look for when conducting a risk assessment for staff who work from home

There are some risks that you should consider for most staff working remotely. Common risks include:

  1. Mental health risks such as stress and anxiety
  2. Risks associated with workstations e.g., the use of display screen equipment
  3. Electrical equipment
  4. Environmental issues such as noise levels, temperature, and ventilation

These are just some common risks homeworkers may experience, additionally you must keep an open mind to any risks specific to the work your employees are doing remotely.

Protecting the mental health of homeworkers

The following steps can help you reduce stress and mental health issues for staff who work remotely:

  1. Ensure that remote workers come into the workplace regularly so they can stay up to date with the business and stay connected with their colleagues
  2. Remember to include them in work socials to tackle feelings of isolation
  3. Have proper communication systems set up to stay connected with off-premises staff during the day. E.g., phone, email, instant messaging, videoconferencing, etc
  4. Provide helplines for IT support or equipment breakdown.

Health and Safety training for homeworkers

You must give enough health and safety training to all your staff to enable them to be safe at work, including those who work from home.

Regardless of where employees are working, all employers still have a responsibility for their health, safety, and wellbeing. Managers should be encouraged to regularly discuss this with team members, as employees should still take the first step in reporting any issues to their employer.


Related Articles: 

Remote Working: What are the risks? How to Manage them.



Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Health & Safety, Hybrid Working

Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Is Hybrid Working Here to stay?

As companies started moving back to on-site work for their employees, many employees have chosen to change jobs rather than be forced to return to an office. Of course, there are pros and cons to working from home or from the office but this is where hybrid work comes in. Working from home has become a valued part of many employees’ daily life.

Does Remote Work Affect Employee Productivity?

Working from the office allows an employee to chat with colleagues, have one-to-one or group meetings in person, and increase the chance of easy collaboration. On the other hand, working from home provides a more comfortable and relaxed environment where you can feel more in control of your day. Working from the comfort of your home, will also save you a lot of commuting time.

According to a Stanford Study, home working leads to a 13% overall performance increase. The experiment took place with a company with over 15’000 employees. The employees were assigned to either work from home or the office on a random basis. The employees who worked from home needed fewer breaks and fewer days off and did 4% more per minute compared to their peers.

Why are Remote Workers More Efficient?

In a 2021 survey conducted by FlexJobs, it was found that 51% of the surveyed workers considered themselves more productive at home or working remotely mainly due to:

  • Being able to avoid office politics and relationships
  • Having better focus
  • A quieter work environment
  • Fewer interruptions throughout the work day

Whether working from home becomes a legal right or not, from 2022 onward, employees will consider it an essential requirement when looking for work. The option to work remotely has become central to the decisions employees make.

Related Articles:

Changes to Flexible Working Rights

Remote Working: What are the risks? How to Manage them.



Posted in Contract of employment, Employment Contract, Hybrid Working

May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Changes to Flexible Working Rights

In September 2021, the UK Government published a consultation document to reform the right to request flexible working under a new Employment Bill- which is yet to be put before Parliament.

What will the new legislation mean for hybrid work?

The document will put forward five proposals;

  • Making the right to request flexible working a day one right
  • Consider whether the currently permitted business reasons for refusing a request all remain valid
  • Consider the administrative process underpinning the right to request flexible working
  • Requiring the employer to suggest alternatives to what has been requested by the employee
  • Requesting a temporary arrangement

These proposals will broaden employees’ rights to request flexible work. However, employers will retain the right to reject such requests for one or more broadly defined reasons.

What does this mean for employees?

The main change for employees would be the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment, rather than first having to accrue 26 weeks’ service under the current legislative framework. It’s important to note that employees only have the right to make a request for flexible working, rather than a right to flexible working, and employers will still be able to refuse the request on certain broad business grounds.

Unless there is a discussion between the employer and the employee about flexible working before their employment starts, employees who want to work flexibly will have to start working on the basis of their original terms of employment while trying to change them, as there is no right to make a request before starting the job.

What does this mean for employers?

Rejecting a request might become more difficult for employers. Employers could be required to suggest, or at least consider, alternative arrangements to those requested by the employee.

As it stands, employees can only make one request every 12 months, and employers have 3 months to consider the request and make a decision. Potentially increasing how often an employee can make a request will somewhat reduce existing barriers to flexible working and would recognise that employees’ personal circumstances can quickly change. The Government suggests where these changes are temporary to encourage employees to request temporary arrangements.

Striking the right balance

Many employers already have hybrid working policies in place, meaning that any reform is likely to have a limited impact in practice. Whilst employers will clearly benefit from embracing flexible working in terms of recruitment and retention of employees, whether requests can be accommodated will very much depend on the requirements of the business and the nature of the employee’s role, and employers will have a broad range of reasons on which to reject any request if necessary.

In Bright Contracts, we have a flexible working policy which you can add to your handbook where you can edit to suit your company's needs.

Further guidance on flexible working can be found here.

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Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Hybrid Working

Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Living with Covid-19: The Latest News for Employers

The UK Prime Minister recently announced the living with Covid-19 strategy for England. All Covid legal restrictions will end in England on Thursday 24th of February and free testing will stop from Friday the 1st of April.

Here’s what employers need to know:


Currently, if you test positive for Covid-19 you are legally required to self-isolate for ten days or five days following a negative lateral flow test on days five and six. From the 24th of February, this will be removed. A minimum five-day self-isolation period will still be advised, but workers are not obliged to tell their employers if they have tested positive and need to self-isolate. This change may cause some issues for employers.

Although the Government’s rules have changed, employers still have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm from occurring to their employees. Additionally, the relaxation of the rules will cause concern for employees who are fearful of contracting Covid-19. This may result in a reluctance to return to the workplace. Employers should continue to comply with the Government’s ‘Working safely during Covid-19’ guidance, which will remain in force until the 1st of April 2022.

Employers may advise employees to self-isolate for a minimum of five days following a positive Covid-19 test and may consider going further than Government guidance in the workplace. If they do, they will have to consider their position in relation to sick pay if the employee cannot work from home.

From the 24th of February, vaccinated contacts of a positive Covid-19 case will no longer be required to test for seven days and unvaccinated contacts will no longer have to self-isolate. Furthermore, from this date self-isolation support payment will also end. The support payments for self-isolation will also end on this date.

From the 24th of March, there will be changes to statutory sick pay and the employment support allowance will come to an end.


The Prime Minister also announced that the free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic lateral flow and PCR testing will be removed from April 1st. The UK Health Security Agency will decide who is entitled to free tests, but this will be limited to symptomatic at-risk groups and social care staff. Anyone else who does not fall into these categories will have to pay.

Numerous employers are relying on regular employee testing to keep their workplace Covid free. Once testing is no longer available for free, employers will have to determine a new approach. They may have to consider purchasing test kits for their employees.


The Government announced additional booster jabs for those ages 75 and over. Mandatory vaccination polices have been risky, they can lead to legal risks including, data privacy, unfair dismissal, and discrimination. The Government intend to revoke plans to make vaccination mandatory for all health and social care settings in England, however, it has not been officially confirmed when or if this will happen.

Hybrid Working

Aside from health and safety concerns, some employees may be reluctant to return to the workplace due to a change in lifestyle. Employers will need to consider whether their employment contracts contain a requirement to work at the workplace, and if so, whether it is reasonable to enforce such requirements. Many employees will have the right to request flexible working, to which the Government is working on considered responses to these requests. Employers should treat these requests very carefully. If an employee has successfully performed their role at home during multiple lockdowns, then it would be extremely difficult to refuse a flexible working request.

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Remote Working: What are the risks? How to Manage them.

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Returning To The Office: Top 10 Things Employers Need to Know - Part 2



Posted in Coronavirus, Health & Safety, Hybrid Working

Jan 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Remote Working: What are the risks? How to Manage them.

It is evident that remote working, whether it be fully remote or part of a hybrid working model, is a preferred choice for many employees. For employers, remote working comes with multiple risks that must be managed carefully.

What are these risks?

Employee Isolation- When working from home, it is easy to sit at the desk for the entire day and not take a break. This can lead to potential burnout. In the office it is easy to take a five-minute break for a cup of tea or just a stretch. Furthermore, employees may feel that they are less capable of having access to the appropriate support from colleagues or management. It is important the employees are aware that the same support is available to them whether they are working in the office or at home.

Data protection breaches- There is no doubt that protecting employees, contacts and customers personal data and confidentiality when they are all working from a central location is a lot easier to manage. Employees who work remotely and live in shared accommodation or use public Wi-Fi networks for work can risk data being seen and obtained by third parties.

Overlooking health and safety responsibilities- It is important that employers do not forget that they are obliged to protect the health and safety of their employees at work, whether they work remotely or at the office.

How to Manage the Risks

Promote collaboration - Try have regular Zoom/Team meetings to stay connected with colleagues. Here, employees can share their ideas with one another and an easy way to stay in contact with each other.

Raise awareness of employees’ data protection obligations - Employers should amend their data protection policy to suit the different employee circumstances. E.g., how to deal with storing documents safely, how they should be destroyed, and who has access to them. Furthermore, employers should provide training sessions on data compliance to ensure that they are made aware of their responsibilities whether they are working from home or the office.

Carry out health and safety assessments- Employers should update their health and safety policies so that they risk assess every employee’s remote working place. They should consider how safe the employee’s work set up is and how they can help them.

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Posted in Coronavirus, Employee Contracts, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Hybrid Working


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