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5 ways to create your well-being culture

Many of you will be aware that 1 in 4 of us are likely to suffer from some form of poor mental health therefore it is vital for businesses to have in place a workplace wellbeing policy. However, many businesses make the mistake of thinking that such a policy will be well received by its staff – I mean why wouldn’t it be? Unfortunately, this is rarely the case because without creating a wellbeing culture you are unlikely to get any staff engagement.

Here are 5 ways to help you get started on creating your “wellbeing culture”:

  1. Create and design an inspiring workplace; have designated areas to allow employees to have time away from their workstation like a “wellbeing room” which can be used to take a lunch break, fill the space with puzzles, inspirational books/quotes, comfortable cushions. We have a wellbeing room which is used by employees, partners and clients with equal enthusiasm.
  2. Start from the top and work your way down; it is only when senior members of the team are truly committed to a wellbeing culture is one embraced so ensure that your management team are displaying the wellbeing behaviours expected from their teams.
  3. Start small; make small changes by actively creating lunchbreaks and creating group activities such as yoga, a walk in the park or an afternoon/evening jog.
  4. Do not lose enthusiasm; this is easier said than done, there will always be members of the team who are unwilling to participate in the culture you are trying to create and that is ok too. You should respect their wishes but continue to motivate and encourage those that wish to embrace being part of an organisation which values a wellbeing culture – you never know you might be able to win them over in the long run.
  5. Encourage teamwork; those of you who know me will know that my philosophy is that “much can be achieved by working together and little can be achieved by working alone”. I equally apply this philosophy to creating a wellbeing culture – whether you are a manager or operative offer to help one another out – making sure everyone leaves the office at a decent time should be the intention of the whole team.  

If you would like advice and assistance in creating a wellbeing culture or would like to find out more about our wellbeing room then contact Samira Cakali at samira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk or on 0113 350 4030.

Some of you will know that I have been on a journey for the last two years to create a wellbeing culture at SCE Solicitors and in the coming 12 months I will be sharing my journey on Instagram via the hashtag #SCEWellbeingWarriors. Please do follow it on https://www.instagram.com/scesolicitors/ .

If you have enjoyed this article and would like to be kept updated on HR and Employment Law issues please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and litigation practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide. Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Garden Leave – protecting your business

When a key employee is about to leave, employers look to minimise damage to their business and may wish to keep the employee away from customers and commercially sensitive information. Often this is done by putting the employee on garden leave during their notice period.

Samira Cakali, employment law expert, explains garden leave, its benefits and when it is safe to put an employee on garden leave.  She also looks at alternatives.

What is garden leave?

Instead of working out their notice, the employee receives their usual pay and benefits but is prevented from coming into work or performing their duties. It is known as ‘garden leave’ as the employee is free to get on and do the garden.

Why is it a good idea?

Although you are paying the employee not to do any work, there may be good reasons for putting a key employee on garden leave. This is particularly the case if the employee’s contract does not restrict what they can do after leaving the company or they have indicated that they do not think any restrictions are enforceable.

Garden leave buys time during which the employee cannot start work for a competitor. During the notice period, the employee’s knowledge may become out of date, limiting its value to any competitor. The individual’s ability to poach customers and colleagues is restrained, as is the scope for misusing any confidential information.

Occasionally it can be useful where there has been a breakdown in working relations and the workplace would be more harmonious without this individual.

When can you use garden leave?

You need to ensure that the employee has appropriately worded clauses in their contract which give you the right to put them on garden leave. Garden leave clauses should operate regardless of whether the employee resigns, or you give them notice.

What should be included in a contract?

Particularly for employees in senior or specialist roles, they may have a right to be provided with work. If you put employees on garden leave without a contractual right to do so, they may argue that it is a breach of contract. This would allow the employee to walk away sooner and to release them from other contractual restrictions on what they can do after leaving employment with you.

The clause needs to be clearly worded and state, among other things, that the employee cannot carry on other business activities. The garden leave period should not be excessively long, or the employee may be able to challenge it in court.

What if the employee breaches the terms of their garden leave?

If the employee ignores the garden leave clause, for example by contacting customers, the usual mechanism for enforcing it is to ask the High Court to issue an injunction against the employee. The High Court will assess whether this is necessary to protect your legitimate interests, such as connections with customers.

Are there any alternatives?

Depending on the individual’s role, it may be overkill to remove the employee from the workplace and to stop them performing any work at all. Less drastic options that could still protect your business involve restricting the activities that the employee performs during their notice or requiring them to perform suitable, alternative duties. Again, the contract needs to give you the right to do this.

You can include restrictive covenants in the employee’s contract of employment. These aim to protect your business after the employee has left, for instance by restricting them from working for a competitor or preventing them from contacting your customers for a specific period of time. However, these have to be carefully drafted to ensure that they are enforceable.

We can ensure that your key employees’ contracts of employment are appropriately drafted, and we can advise if you have concerns regarding the departure of a key employee.

If you need help and advice on garden leave, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

If you have enjoyed this article and would like to be kept updated on HR and Employment Law issues please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and litigation practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide. Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Changing from Employee to Consultant: pitfalls to avoid

Changing an individual’s working arrangements from employee to consultant may seem attractive; no employer National Insurance contributions to pay and greater flexibility for the individual. A win-win situation surely?

Samira Cakali, employment law expert, explains why this can be a risky course of action for the employer and looks at ways to minimise the risks.

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Contracts of employment: common errors and how to avoid them

Tempting though it might be to dish out the same contract of employment for new starters year after year, putting a little time into preparing your contracts could pay dividends in the longer term. Should you fall out with an employee, a clearly-worded contract that is fit for purpose for that individual and up-to-date can go a long way towards protecting your business.

Here are some some common mistakes and how to avoid them, as well as a couple of changes to watch out for from April 2020.

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Dismissing An Employee With A Disability

Work related stress translating to long term absence is growing and the impact to business’ is significant. So, when it comes to dismissing an employee due to ill health it can be tricky if it is to do with a potential protected characteristic in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. 

Dismissal For Sickness

Case Study

The company is not happy with the performance of an employee who has only 9 months service and in addition has been off sick with stress and depression. The company wishes to dismiss the employee, as they have less than 2 years’ service and the employee cannot bring an unfair dismissal claim. Is the company ok to dismiss?

The answer is not a clear yes or no, the employee may have a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, and they may have a claim for disability discrimination.

Equality Act 2010

So, how is a disability defined?

According to the Equality Act, a person has a disability if:

  • they have a physical or mental impairment
  • the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities

What does ‘substantial’, ‘long term’ and ‘day to day’ mean?

  • ‘substantial’ means more than minor or trivial, for example it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
  • ‘long-term’ means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months
  • ‘normal day-to-day activities’ include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping

There has been a recent tribunal case, Parnaby v Leicester City Council where an employee was impaired by depression caused by work related stress. The tribunal ruled that he did not fit the definition of a disability. They said that his condition didn’t last over 12 months. The Claimant appealed and the EAT overruled the decision and said the tribunal should have considered whether the impairment was likely to last 12 months or whether it might recur in the future. The tribunal made the assumption that removing the work-related stress by dismissing the employee, this would remove the impairment. 

This judgement helps to clarify that the whole definition of a disability would have to be considered when making decisions on an employee’s employment.

Termination Of Contract

So, when considering a termination of contract for an employee who has a disability, employers should ask the following clarifying questions:

  • Does the person have a physical or mental impairment?
  • Does that impairment have an adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities?
  • Is that effect substantial?
  • Is that effect long-term and the person would be affected in the future?

Medical practitioners can help you answer some of these questions, and if there is any doubt that the condition is a true disability, then other alternatives to dismissal would need to be considered.  For example, reasonable adjustments or alternative employment.  If none of these options are viable, then termination could be possible under incapacity. 

The process however is not straightforward, and we would encourage you to seek advice prior to taking action in such cases. 

If you need help and advice managing an employee who has a disability, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

If you have enjoyed this article and would like to be kept updated on HR and Employment Law issues please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and litigation practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide. Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

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Workplace Banter

Much can be gained in having a relaxed work place environment where employees can talk and express opinions freely to each other however with workplace banter there is a very fine line which can easily be crossed and turn banter into unlawful bullying and harassment even if the purpose was not to cause offence.

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Menopause: How To Support Women In The Workplace

In this article we explore how menopause affects women in the workplace and what you can do to help shake the stigma.

What Is The Menopause?

The menopause is a natural part of the female life cycle. It usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline, and she stops having periods.

In the UK, the average age a woman reaches menopause is 51, but around one in 100 women experience the menopause before the age of 40.

The length of the menopause also varies. Symptoms typically last around four years, but around one in 10 women experience them for up to as much as 12 years.

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