Category: Learning & Development


Equal Pay Day: How far have we come?

Thursday the 10th November marked Equal Pay Day – a day that acknowledges the long struggle for women to receive the same amount of pay as men. Equal pay is an interesting and sometimes quite complex issue that still holds relevance today. This blog will attempt to understand the ‘big picture’ around equal pay and why it remains an ambition rather than a reality.

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Success under Stress

Recently, I attended a fascinating seminar around the causes, effects and solutions for stress in the workplace; something that affects so many of us around the world in our everyday working lives. This Edinburgh-based session was courtesy of the Business Matters group, hosted by the CMS Law Firm and presented by the captivating speaker, Stephen Turnbull. Read more


Resourcing during uncertain times

Research conducted by CV Library saw a remarkable 9.8% growth in vacancies last month in the UK, suggesting that the labour market remains strong despite Brexit. However, this research does not provide details around what types of vacancies the growth has been in, whether these are permanent, fixed term or temporary project-based roles and it is clear that uncertainty remains. One can only assume that employers may be or will be re-thinking their resourcing strategies in the short term. Read more

Backlash over plans to force companies to reveal foreign staff numbers

Recent proposals by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd requiring companies to disclose the number of foreign workers they employ has been met with criticism by business groups and opposition parties.

The plan is part of a number of proposals that came out at last week’s Conservative Party conference and comes on the backdrop of the Brexit vote in which immigration was cited as a key factor for those voting leave. Read more

Building a culture to improve productivity and employee engagement

On Thursday September 22nd, we were delighted to invite guests to a seminar at our Edinburgh offices. Our Managing Director Margery McBain and Douglas Nicholson – Counsellor, Psychotherapist, and Chair of Health in Mind – presented at the seminar which looked at how businesses can help employees who have mental health issues. The seminar created a good discussion between everyone that was there and it was great to catch up with people as well as meeting some new faces. Read more

‘Great Change Creates Great Opportunity’ – The Business Journey

I recently attended the Business Journey networking event with Neil in Glasgow, an event that I thoroughly enjoyed and gave me a chance to meet business specialists throughout Scotland. The title of the event was ‘Great Change Creates Great Opportunity’, which considered why businesses need to stay flexible to take advantage of the opportunities and shifts in market conditions. Read more

Sexual Harassment: It’s no joke

The TUC Report: some worrying statistics

I’m sure most of you heard either on social media or even the radio or television about the recent TUC report in collaboration with the Everyday Sexism Project into Sexual harassment in the workplace in 2016.

Based on a survey of 1,500 women, the report found that a shocking 52% of all women polled had experienced some sort of sexual harassment, while around 80% of these women did not report the sexual harassment to their employer. Furthermore, the report also found that 35% of women have heard comments of a sexual nature being made about other woman in the workplace; 32% of women have been subject to unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature; 28% of women have been subject to comments of a sexual nature about their body or clothes; and just under 25% of women have experienced unwanted touching (such as a hand on the knee or lower back).

“It’s only banter”

The report stated that in nine out of ten cases, the perpetrator was male and 17% of women said it was their line manager or someone with direct authority over them. Indeed, one can imagine a male perpetrator passing this behaviour off as “just banter” and that the victim “should learn how to take a joke”.

I’ve been following this story on the news and reading about the experiences of some women on various websites. On the BBC website, a female lifeguard described her experience where a male colleague would constantly grope her in front of swimmers and other members of staff and there was even an instance where he followed her into a stockroom and aggressively began to touch her. There were also numerous examples where females were the subject of unwanted personal comments of a sexual nature.

Can this sort of behaviour really be considered as banter? I don’t think so, which makes me think what can be done to eliminate this.

What can be done?

Based on what I’ve read, victims seemed reluctant to report that they were being harassed by a colleague, and the ones that did report harassment were either ignored or the scenario was shrugged off by management or whoever was dealing with the complaint. Indeed, the TUC report suggested that around 79% of female victims did not tell their employer. From that number, 28% said they were afraid that their relationships at work would be badly affected; 15% felt their career prospects would be negatively affected; 24% felt too embarrassed to report sexual harassment or they wouldn’t be believed; while 20% of victims were just too embarrassed to report it.

What I would take from that is that we (whether it’s the government, employers, or even just ourselves as individuals) aren’t attaching enough importance on sexual harassment and the negative impact it has on victims and indeed businesses.

As Frances O’Grady said herself: “The Government needs to send a clear signal that this kind of behaviour is unlawful”. I agree that this is a suitable starting point in order to change attitudes towards sexual harassment from the point of view that victims should feel comfortable in reporting the harassment and all individuals are aware that this kind of behaviour is unlawful and not “just a bit of banter”.

It will be interesting to see what the reaction will be to this report so let’s all hope that when another report like this comes around in the future, the numbers aren’t as shocking as they are in this report.

Strike Action

Strike Action – how to prepare for the impact on employee’s commute

ScotRail have confirmed their intention to strike on the following dates:

  • Tuesday 21 June
  • Thursday 23 June
  • Saturday 25 June
  • Sunday 26 June
  • Sunday 3 July
  • Sunday 10 July
  • Sunday 17 July

For more details on how the strike will affect your route, please visit the Scotrail website.

The planned strike could potentially cause major disruption to commuter’s journeys, along with additional congestion on the roads and buses.

For employers, they may need to consider alternative ways of working, and think about how any lateness or absences will be treated, if they don’t have a relevant policy.

Alternative ways of working

Employers have little control over industrial action, so may need to be flexible about how employees can get to work. The employer may wish to consider alternative ways of working if it will be difficult or overly time consuming for their employees to get to work. The employer should first encourage the employees to explore alternative means of transport, for example other public transport options, walking, cycling, travel by car or car-sharing with other employees.

If these are not viable options, the employer may wish to give consideration to whether the employee could usefully work from home or from an alternative local office until the travel situation improves, or whether the time could be made up at a later date. If this is not possible, the employer will need to decide how to record the absence and communicate this to staff.

Employers should also consider the impact strikes may have on other services such as the closure of nurseries and schools and how this may affect parents. Staff are entitled to unpaid emergency time off for dependents in scenarios such as these.


The alternatives available for the employer are to advise the employee that any time off work in these circumstances will be unpaid, paid or paid on a discretionary basis but in exceptional cases only.

There is no obligation to pay employees who fail to attend work or who arrive late due to disruptions to public transport for the missed time, unless there is specific provision for such absence to be paid in the contract of employment.

However, if there is no option to work flexibly, an employer could also suggest that the employee take paid annual leave if he or she wishes to be paid for the time off. An employer cannot insist that an employee take annual leave without the requisite notice but there is nothing to stop them asking if an employee would like to take a day’s holiday due to being unable to attend work on that day.


Working during Ramadan – an employee’s guide

In the second of our series of blogs about Ramadan – the month of fasting, we look at an employee’s guide to working during Ramadan.

The Prophet Muhammad taught Muslims to be balanced in their approach to life in relation to the practice of the religion and work, however during Ramadan it is sometimes hard to achieve this balanced approach and you may feel your productivity or concentration drop.

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Managing Change Successfully

Organisations have been going through change for years, there is an abundance of information out there to support employers through this difficult time, so why are many still getting it wrong?

The most recent high-profile example of this is the case of the Tullis Russell paper firm (2015) which revealed workers received £1.5m in compensation after they were made redundant with just one-days’ notice. This is the extreme, however it certainly highlights how important it is to ensure an appropriate process is adhered to whilst an organisation is going through change.

Managers are responsible for managing change and should be aware of the various types of change, their legal and management responsibilities to consult effectively, appropriately and in accordance with agreed procedures. Employers should be clear about the nature of change being considered; the impact this may have on employees; seek advice, and; should engage in consultation as appropriate to the nature of the change under consideration. However, there is a difference between following the statutory guidance to ensure legislative compliance and really engaging your employees from the start of any change process, by communicating clearly and involving them in meaningful consultation.

There may be a lot of guidance around the statutory process, but what about the smaller changes, changes to job descriptions, structural changes, reporting lines, changes to working practices / hours / patterns, where there are no redundancies? These changes may seem small to some employers, but they will more than likely have an impact on employees.

Embracing Change

Experience of managing change has shown that engaging employees appropriately from the beginning, no matter how small the change is, reduces and smooths anxieties through a difficult process and consultation, proportionate to the changes proposed, is key to this. Not only does this help to engage employees but it also helps management come to sound decisions and gain a more committed team. From an employee’s perspective, the more notice provided to prepare for changes, the better they can organise their own personal lives, whether that be financial responsibilities, family responsibilities and engage with the change.

Consultation is not, and should not, be an end in itself. Nevertheless, used properly it can have a key role to play in ensuring the business success of organisations. Change is inevitable and employers should aim to ready their employees, allow them opportunities to embrace change and adapt to change. This can be achieved through; effective two-way communication, co-design, efficient and consistent project management, clear business bases and a fair and transparent process throughout.

If any of these issues sound familiar to you or your business is preparing for a period of change please get in touch on 0131 243 1379.