Category: Employment Policies


Video: Gravitate HR GDPR Toolkit for Small Businesses


The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May 2018. With our GDPR toolkit, Gravitate HR can help your organisation prepare for the new regulations by providing an E-learning module for all staff, a tailored GDPR Policy, and the relevant template correspondence.

You can contact one of our advisors in Edinburgh or Glasgow for further details.


Should criminal records be sealed from employers?

A review issued last month from MP, David Lammy, suggested that criminal offenders should be able to hide their criminal records from potential employers. Lammy included this as a recommendation in an independent report on the treatment of Black, Asian and Minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in the criminal justice system.  In the UK, over 11 million people have a criminal record and only 26.5% of them enter employment after the are released. The review argues that many struggle to find employment due to employer’s wariness of hiring ex-offenders.

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How to get the most out of flexible working

Flexible working arrangements are becoming more favourable and popular in today’s workplaces. A grassroots survey reported that 49% of respondents cited flexible working as the most coveted future workplace benefit. A recent research paper from ACAS highlights that flexible working has benefits for employees and employers but also there are downfalls for both to be aware of.

This blog will review the general guidelines on what makes a ‘good’ flexible worker and what makes a ‘good’ flexible employer.

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Cyber Security – A new world?

The words have a futuristic sense to them but the issues are real and alive today.  In our data storing and gigabyte gobbling world what does it mean to us and what should we do?

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Planning for Success(ion)

Thursday 23rd March marked the first seminar to be hosted at Gravitate HR’s Glasgow office in Blythswood Square – Planning for Success(ion). Our Head of Client Services in Glasgow Neil Ferguson was joined by James Kennedy of Two Factor Solutions to discuss a range of issues surrounding Succession Planning with regard to the initial recruitment stages, discovering employee values, in addition to the benefits and perceived difficulties of succession planning. Read more


Sports Direct


We’ve all been reading and hearing about Sports Direct on the TV, in the paper, on the radio… But what really happened? What are the issues?
At the end of 2015, the Guardian sent two undercover reporters to work at Sports Direct’s warehouse in Shirebrook in Derbyshire.

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The Autumn Statement 2016

The Autumn Statement 2016 and Non-Financial Rewards

This year’s Autumn Statement was Phillip Hammond’s first as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Ironically, however, it will also be his last as he announced that from Autumn 2017, there will be an Autumn Budget followed by a Spring statement. Therefore, next year’s Spring budget will be the last of its kind before the UK reverts to having a Spring statement in 2018.

As always, the Chancellor’s words were closely monitored by many business leaders to see how the Government’s plans would affect them.

“Salary Sacrifice” Schemes

A “Salary Sacrifice” scheme is a term used to describe a situation when an employee will “sacrifice” part of their salary for a non-cash benefit (such as gym memberships or mobile phone deals) with the business and the employee also benefitting from having to pay less tax.

The Chancellor remarked that such schemes are “unfair” and will abolish many of them from Spring next year. However, some schemes such as child care, cycling to work, and pensions will not be affected by the decision.

However, the measure announced in the Statement was not met with the widespread approval from business associations and lobby groups. The CBI, for example, argued that the measure would “send the wrong signal to companies wanting to invest more in employee health and wellbeing”. Furthermore, the Reward and Employee Benefits Association argued that the changes would affect lower paid workers the most, remarking that “essential employee benefits have been caught up in the change”.

‘Non-financial’ or ‘Non-cash’ rewards

I think this move prompts another debate over how valuable or beneficial these ‘non-financial’ rewards are to businesses and employees alike. Perhaps ‘non-cash’ is a more appropriate term given that traditional non-financial rewards such as gym memberships or supermarket vouchers can still have monetary value. There is no doubt that money is the most significant factor in whether an individual supplies their labour to an organisation; however, ‘non-cash’ rewards can still be an effective way of motivating employees.

A key factor in the effectiveness of any reward is that the nature of it must match the needs or desires of the recipient. If a company is offering a discount on gym membership to a workforce which comprises of people who are not regular gym users, then there is less of a chance that it will yield any significant benefits. Many critics argue that although such schemes are great for regular gym users, non-gym users are likely to view it as something they have to pay money for, albeit at a lower price than usual. Indeed, it can be common for businesses to assume that, by offering gym memberships to their staff, they will automatically have a healthier workforce and benefit from lower levels of staff absence. According to the annual Absence Management Report by the CIPD, the average number of days lost per employee per year in 2016 was 6.3 days, which is down from 6.9 days in 2015.

Final Thoughts

There is unlikely to be a widespread elimination of these schemes by businesses as a result of the Autumn Statement, however they will be less financially sustainable than they were previously. It is hard to tell whether or not these changes will have a negative effect on employee health and wellbeing, as suggested by the Reward and Employee Benefits Association. On one hand, you could argue that these benefits are only used people who use these schemes to save money on a product or service that they regularly use anyway. On the other hand, these schemes could provide individuals, such as the lower paid workers mentioned by REBA, with an incentive or indeed the opportunity to go to the gym for example, which they could otherwise not afford. Only time will tell from April 2017 when the changes are made.

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Bosses tell women to wear high heels and make-up

My colleague Neil and I have recently blogged about “Is Gender Equality really that much of a tall order to achieve?” and “What are the risks for employers when deciding on the suitability of appearance in the workplace?” which were linked to dress codes and appearances in the workplace, and it seems that the pressure women are under to ‘look good’ is still very much a hot topic. Read more

Modern Slavery

  • Globally there are over 20 million people in modern slavery.
  • In the UK, estimates of up to 13,000 cases of modern slavery per annum; and only a small fraction of them being reported.
  • Modern slavery includes: Forced Labour, Bonded Labour, Child Labour, Sex Trafficking, Forced Marriage.

In her previous role as Home Secretary, Theresa May actively promoted the abolition of modern slavery. She helped introduce the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 which had the purpose of penalising slave masters, protecting and supporting victims, and establishing new requirements for business to show transparency in their workforce and of those within their supply chain. Read more

Summer events and employees

The Impact of events like the Euro’s, The Edinburgh Festival and the Olympics

As we have entered the summer months’ employees are typically taking their family holidays. This generally means employers need to plan effectively to ensure the business continues to deliver despite cover being low.

In addition to the above, we recommend employer’s give some thought as to the impact of events such as Euro’s, The Edinburgh Festival and the Olympic Games on attendance rates. It is important employers are mindful of the potential impact of these events on your business, if not managed effectively.

We recommend employers have policies and procedures in-place for requesting holidays which have been clearly communicated to employees. Not only does this support fairness and consistency when dealing with holiday requests, but it also informs the employee thus managing their expectations.

Where possible the business might be able to operate a form of flexible working to ensure the needs of the business are met while accommodating the employee’s request, although many will not have the luxury. If, however, this is something the business can accommodate strict criteria as to how this is applied and the qualification(s) should be clearly communicated to employees and consistency in the process ensured.

Other considerations include absence rates. Some employees may call in sick during these times either to watch a sports event or see a show particularly where a holiday request has been denied or they have exhausted their accrued holiday entitlement.

Having a robust sickness absence policy, which has been communicated informs employees of the rules and that absence is monitored by the company. Furthermore, the use of return to work meetings reinforces this message and allows you to probe further into their reason for absence where you have your suspicions.

You may find productivity dips as employees talk about these social or sporting events during working hours. Another thing to watch out for is checking for updates or to buy tickets online during working hours. Also, watching sports events on a personal device during working hours is more common that you may think. Again, you need to make it clear to employees what is and isn’t acceptable for the workplace and that any breach will be dealt with under the disciplinary policy.

Often the consumption of alcohol goes hand in hand with watching sports events or if you go to see a show it’s often followed by a couple of drinks. As a result, you may find employees don’t present themselves for work due to over indulging in alcohol the night before, or; they come to work in an unfit state due to still being under the influence of alcohol. This would result in an employee being sent home which leaves you under resourced, having the potential to affect business delivery.

It therefore pays employers to clearly communicate and re-iterate policies and procedures to employees, observe how productive employees are when they are in work and effectively plan the resources (including any necessary contingency plans) the business requires to maintain delivery.