The icy winds of employment uncertainty across Europe

The icy winds of employment uncertainty across Europe

snowy bikesAfter years of economic recession, double dips, financial cliffs, bankrupt member states and other woes, employees across Europe are still worrying about their employment situation. That is if they haven’t already been sacked. Regardless of which sector their employer is operating in, many employees are victims of the fallout of the financial crisis. Restructuring, downsizing and hire freezes have been on everyone’s minds and few are unaffected by the icy winds of employment uncertainty. We have all seen bailout after bailout, government stimulus packages and changes in employment policies.

In the centre stage are executives, HR professionals and lawyers still scrambling to reduce Europe’s relatively expensive and inefficient bulging organisations.

The European Employment Law Checkpoint is an excellent resource from Wragge & Co.  It covers a wide spectrum including the commencement and content of the employment relationship, general rules for terminations, individual and collective redundancy, employee’s rights in case of termination and discrimination.

Country Termination Notice Period.  Note: Employment contracts may provide for more notice.


  • Up to 2 years’ service: 1 week.
  • 2 to 12 years’ service: 1 week per completed year (maximum of 12 weeks).


  • Up to 6 month’s service: No statutory minimum notice period.
  • From 6 months to 2 years’ service: 1 months’ notice.
  • Over 2 years’ service: 2 months’ notice.

With very few exceptions, the Labour Code does not provide for a notice period in the case of a resignation.


Under Belgian law, the duration of the notice period is different for blue-collar and white-collar employees. Also different provisions apply to employment contacts that started before 1 January 2012. Details are available here.



An employee cannot be dismissed without justification. For dismissals with fair ground, no prior notice is required, but formal disciplinary proceedings are required. For a redundancy dismissal or unsuitability dismissal, the employee is entitled to a prior notice which varies from 15 to 75 days, depending on his/her seniority.



Prior notice is not required if a dismissal is based on disciplinary reasons. However, if a dismissal is based on redundancy reasons, the employer must give minimum prior notice of 15 calendar days (or provide payment in lieu of notice).



  • Less than 2 years of service:  4 weeks’ notice.
  • Over 2 years’ service: 1 months’ notice increasing in line with the length of service to a maximum of 7 months after at least 20 years’ service.

The employee is entitled to remuneration during the notice period.



The Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts, 1973-2005 require notice:

  • From 13 weeks’ to 2 years’ service: one week’s prior notice
  • From 2 to 5 years’ service: 2 weeks’ prior notice
  • From 5 to 10 years’ service: 4 weeks’ prior notice
  • From 10 to 15 years’ service: 6 weeks’ prior notice
  • Over 15 years’ service: 8 weeks’ prior notice



Notice periods are established by National Collective Labour Agreements and vary based on the employee’s level/qualification and length of service. In the absence of such an agreement, the relevant period is established by Labour Courts. Employees are entitled to terminate their employment agreement either:

  • by giving notice to the employer (which is established under the National Collective Labour Agreements and is usually shorter than the notice due to them in case of termination); or
  • without giving any notice, if a just cause (“giusta causa”) for termination exists.

The Netherlands


Except for instant dismissal or dismissal during a probationary period, notice periods to be given by an employer are:

  • Less than 5 years’ service: 1 month;
  • Service from 5 to 10 years: 2 months
  • Service from 10 ti 15 years: 3 months
  • Service over 15 years: 4 months

The statutory notice period to be observed by the employee is one month. Parties may deviate from the statutory notice period in writing. However, the notice period to be observed by the employer must then be twice as long as the notice period to be observed by the employee. No notice period has to be observed in the case of a resignation.



The length of a statutory termination notice period depends on the type of employment contract and seniority.  Termination notice periods for a probationary-term are:

  • 3 days – for a probationary period of up to two-weeks;
  • 1 week – for a probationary period longer than two weeks but less than three months; and
  • 2 weeks – for a three-month probationary period.

Generally a fixed-term employment contract and an employment contract for a specific task will terminate at the end of the fixed term period or on completion of the specific task and cannot be terminated earlier upon notice. Termination of employment for a fixed period is possible if an employment contract is for more than six months and the contract provides for termination with at least 2 weeks’ notice. The length of notice for an indefinite period contract is:

  • 2 weeks – for less than 6 months of employment;
  • 1 month – for 6 months or more of employment and less than 3 years of employment; and
  • 3 months – for 3 years or more of employment.

For further information, go here.

Czech Republic


The minimum notice period set by the Czech Labour Code is two months but the parties may agree upon a longer notice period, which must be adequate for the term of employment and type of work. The notice period must be the same for both the employer and the employee.

Source: Wragge & Co _meeting

An interesting study on international dismissal costs was published in 2013 by the accounting giant Deloitte.  This report used four scenarios to which the legal framework of the different Member States were applied so that the overall costs of dismissal could be calculated.

  • Case 1 was an employee of the age of 35, a legal advisor in an IT company with 7 year’s seniority and a gross annual base salary of €60,000.  The gross variable salary per year was €5,000 and benefits in kind per year in gross figures were €8,000.
  • Case 2 was an employee aged 49, a legal advisor in an IT company, 11 year’s seniority, gross annual base salary of €120,000 euros and gross variable salary per year of €10,000 euros and benefits in kind per year of €16,000.

The study analysed the overall costs involved where the dismissal was due to individual reasons (i.e. the employee’s behaviour and ability) or where the dismissal was for economic reasons (i.e. shortage of work.)  The results were rather interesting. Apart from Italy, Belgium was the most expensive country for dismissing employees.

The Table below shows the 5 most expensive countries for dismissal costs for each case.

Case 1, individual/economic reason
1. Italy
2. Belgium
3. Norway
4. Spain Europe
5. Sweden Case

2, individual reasons
1. Italy
2. Belgium
3. The Netherlands
4. Spain
5. Sweden Case

2, Economic reasons
1. Italy
2. Belgium
3. Spain
4. The Netherlands
5. Sweden

The second, and much less surprising, finding of this study was that western European countries face substantially higher dismissal costs compared to central European countries. On average a dismissal in a western European country is expected to be at least two times more expensive than in central European countries.

Facing the sack

Employee rights are constantly changing and are also very susceptible to changes in the domestic political landscape. For instance, the employment legislation in the UK is much more employer-friendly than for instance, Sweden or the Netherlands.  This in turn means that the labour market in the UK is much more dynamic than elsewhere.  On the other hand, employees do not really have a lot of protection against being unfairly dismissed until they have reached to two years’ continuous service.  Employees are still protected from for instance, being discriminated against or suffering a detriment because they are a whistle-blower. Such dismissals are automatically unfair.  However, looking through the window from the UK towards Europe, it may be the proverbial case of “the grass always being greener”.

Looking at other countries

Click here for a brief look at a few EU countries. It is an overview only and it is suggested that you take appropriate professional advice on any particular situation.

Further information

Another perspective is provided in an article on the flexicurity model that was launched by the European Commission in the mid-2000s. It claimed that there existed such a thing as a ‘golden triangle of flexicurity’. The European Commission urged Member States and trade unions to give up on job protection in exchange for adequate unemployment benefits and active labour market policies. The inspiration for this was Denmark – a country hailed as the perfect illustration of how a flexible labour market with low restrictions on employers to dismiss workers could still offer high security of employment. Read the article, by Ronald Janssen. It says that, contrary to expectation when everything is considered, Denmark does not have a labour market that is particularly flexible at all.

OECD indicators of employment protection
The OECD indicators of employment protection legislation measure the procedures and costs involved in dismissing individuals or groups of workers and the procedures involved in hiring workers on fixed-term or temporary work agency contracts. Details are here.

The European Court of Human Rights found in November 2012 that UK law does not provide an adequate level of protection for people that are dismissed as a result of their political leanings. This protection will be extended to members of all political parties including the BNP and while it does not necessarily mean that employees cannot be sacked for their political beliefs, it does mean that they will be afforded the opportunity for a tribunal.

For a brief look at a few EU countries view this publication. It is an overview only and it is suggested that you take appropriate professional advice on any particular situation. It is derived from the 2013 study by Deloitte.

Criminal Record Disclosure – Recruiting People in Positions of Trust

Criminal Record Disclosure – Recruiting People in Positions of Trust

Pen and paperEmployers have to deal with and be aware of an enormous amount of legislation. This article deals with an important piece of law: the requirements of Criminal Record Disclosure when recruiting people in positions of trust.

Today, effective recruitment means that it is more important than ever to check the background of employment candidates. The Disclosure scheme, as described in this article, helps all employers (in both the profit and non-profit sectors) to make more informed recruitment decisions.

The Criminal Records Bureau

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) was set up by the Home Office to help organisations make safer recruitment decisions. By providing wider access to criminal record information, the CRB helps employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors identify candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work, especially that involving contact with children or other vulnerable members of society.CRB

The CRB provides:

  • employees and volunteers with certificates detailing criminal convictions. Employers and voluntary organisations – many of whom are able to access such information for the first time – are able to take this information into account in judging people’s suitability for posts. This is especially important in relation to those working with children and vulnerable adults.
  • a service to employers and voluntary groups of all kinds, called Disclosure. An employer can use the Disclosure service to help establish whether a successful candidate has a background that might make him or her unsuitable for the job or voluntary position in question.

The CRB carries out criminal record checks for individuals, on application, in exchange for a fee. The level of check is determined by the duties of the position to be taken up. The CRB advises and offers guidance to applicants and employers as to which kind of Disclosure is needed in individual cases. In general, work that brings adults into close contact with children or other vulnerable groups, and jobs that are sensitive for other reasons qualify for the highest-level Disclosures.

Previous arrangements

Previous arrangements for access to criminal record checks were seen as being unsatisfactory. Although some organisations had access to checks undertaken by the police, most employers had no way of checking a person’s background in this way. In particular, the voluntary sector had very limited and inadequate access to checks. Most employers had no access at all to checks prior to the introduction of the Disclosure service.

The CRB has widened access to checks so that all employers and voluntary organisations can ask successful candidates to apply for a check. Access to checks is via a single contact point, offering a one-stop shop and a consistent service to all.

Previously, police checks were mainly confined to people employed in the statutory sector in jobs involving significant unsupervised access to children. Many other staff in the statutory sector working with children, or with vulnerable adults were not subject to police checks. Similarly, many other employers, and voluntary organisations did not routinely have access to police checks. The establishment of the CRB means that such information is more accessible, and that the work is specifically resourced, including the contribution made by the police.

The Disclosure Scheme

Criminal Record ExposureDisclosure provides a regulated “one-stop” service in England and Wales, offering controlled access to a variety of records. Two levels of Disclosure are available, dependent on the type of work involved. All give relevant information about a candidate’s background. The CRB can offer guidance as to which is the appropriate Disclosure Scheme for a particular job.

Further information

This article only deals with a few aspects of the Criminal Record Disclosure regime. The Bizezia Online Library includes a PDF publication covering this subject. If you would like a copy, please email me at:

The Ins and Outs of Compromise Agreements

The Ins and Outs of Compromise Agreements

handsshakingIf a dispute between an employer and an employee is settled, it is important to have a formal written agreement detailing the terms of the settlement for the agreement to have legal effect. This is particularly important where “loss of office” occurs and helps ensure that the terms of the agreement are clearly understood and that neither side goes back on the agreement.

It’s unlawful for any agreement to be made that is intended to limit an employee’s rights under the Employment Rights Act 1996 or to prevent an employee making a claim to an Employment Tribunal. An exception can be made to those restrictions if either an agreement is made with the assistance of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) or a formal “Compromise Agreement” is reached between an employer and employee.

Compromise Agreements were introduced when ACAS became increasingly reluctant to involve itself in cases where a formal complaint to an Employment Tribunal had not been presented. They stop employees bringing claims against employers in any court or tribunal in return for financial compensation. They are increasingly used as a mechanism for preventing possible future complaints to the Employment Tribunal in redundancy situations.

Compromise Agreements provide an employer with the certainty of costs, outcome and protection from claims and, if negotiated, the avoidance of publicity. They offer an employee the certainty of a settlement sum. Various statutory conditions must be met for a Compromise Agreement to be legally valid.

Both ACAS brokered agreements and Compromise Agreements have become increasingly common in recent years because they are a legally recognised and safe way of settling disputes and minimise the danger of future complications or problems.

What is a Compromise Agreement?

A Compromise Agreement is a formal written agreement setting out the financial and all other terms on which an employment relationship will end. In order for the Compromise Agreement to be valid, certain formalities must be fulfilled and the employee is then unable subsequently to make a claim in the courts or an employment tribunal.  A Compromise Agreement usually provides for a payment by the employer, in return for which an employee agrees not to pursue an existing claim or claims– and in some cases not to bring any future claim or claims – that the employee may have against the employer, to an Employment Tribunal.

What should a Compromise Agreement contain?

A Compromise Agreement should be a unique agreement tailored precisely to the particular circumstances of the employee and employer. A settlement agreement may cover some or all of the following matters:

•  The settlement sum
• Contract Confidentiality;
•  Future claims clawback
•  Restrictive covenants
•  Employer reference
•  Pension benefits
•  Indemnity
•  “Full and final settlement”
•  Legal costs.

When is a Compromise Agreement drawn up?

A Compromise Agreement can be offered to an employee before or after employment has terminated. In either situation the offer should be “Without Prejudice”, so the terms may not be used as evidence in later proceedings if the agreement is not accepted.  The employer’s legal representative will draw up the Compromise Agreement, but in order for it to be valid, the employee must have received independent legal advice on what signing the agreement will mean for them. In most cases an employer will pay for the employee to receive this advice – but this is usually subject to the employee entering into the agreement and is also usually limited to a specific sum.

There is no legal obligation on an employee to sign a Compromise Agreement if they believe it is unacceptable. If an employee refuses to sign the agreement, both the employee and the employer are free to pursue the case as they see fit. In the case of redundancy this could mean that the employer would refuse to pay the employee the full redundancy package and will instead only pay the minimum state entitlement. In this situation, an employee should seek specialist legal advice to determine the likelihood that their complaint to a tribunal or other legal action is likely to compensate them for what they may lose by refusing to sign the Compromise Agreement. The employee could also seek to negotiate changes to the agreement through their legal adviser or union.

There are two legally recognised alternatives to a Compromise Agreement when settling a statutory claim. These are:

•  An agreed order of the Employment Tribunal; or
•  An agreement, which has been agreed through ACAS, after the commencement of Tribunal proceedings.

Settlements agreed between an employer and employee with the assistance of an ACAS conciliation officer are usually recorded formally on a standard settlement form known as form COT3. Such an agreement effectively binds the parties. As with any legal agreement, its precise terms need to be clear. It is recommended that the parties themselves, rather than their representatives, sign form COT3. This eliminates any subsequent dispute as to whether the representative was actually authorised to sign the settlement form.

If the parties have finalised a settlement before they approach ACAS the agreement cannot be deemed a valid conciliated agreement because ACAS would not have exercised its statutory powers to promote a conciliated settlement, and as such an ACAS officer will not be willing to draw up a COT3 in order to “rubber stamp” an agreement the parties have negotiated directly.

The Tax Position: It looks simple but it’s complicated

Under current taxation laws, the following payments made in settlement of a Compromise Agreement are tax exempt:

•  the first £30,000 of a payment by way of compensation for loss of office; and
•  compensation for personal injury – including emotional injury.

The following payments are taxable:

•  any residual amount over the £30,000 tax exempt allowance of a payment by way of compensation for loss of office; and
Compromise Agreements•  any payment made under a contractual term, for example where an employer makes a payment in lieu of notice.

It is very important that specialist tax advice is taken on the issues surrounding the payment of monies under a Compromise Agreement.

Further information

The Bizezia Online Library includes a PDF publication covering this subject. If you would like a copy, please email me at:

Directors’ Service Agreements…  What They Should Cover

Directors’ Service Agreements… What They Should Cover

Directors ServiceAn Executive Director has rights and obligations arising as an employee as well as a director of the company. It is important to remember that these two roles are separate but related. A director’s Service Agreement is a more complex contract than the basic contract of employment. It can comprise one or more documents but generally the main terms will be contained in the Service Agreement. The trouble is that most directors don’t have one. This article covers some of the issues involved.

Special Clauses and Provisions to include in a Service Agreement

Although in most cases the Director’s Service Agreement will be drawn up after consultation with a lawyer, it’s useful to know some of the important issues that should be covered.  I haven’t included basic things here such as Pay, Hours of Work, Place of Work, Expenses Policy, Benefits Policy, Sickness Policy, Retirement Arrangements, Holiday Pay, Board Meeting Policy and Pension Arrangements and so on. I have listed some of the most important clauses below but if you want to delve deeper, please email me at to ask for the publication I mention at the end of this article.

Important issues:
  • Payment in lieu of notice: In the case of directors, it is particularly important for the company to reserve the right to give pay in lieu of part of or the whole of the notice period.  If the company does not have this right, it will be in breach of contract should it proceed to do so. A party that is in breach of a contract can no longer rely on its terms, which means that the company will be unable to enforce any post termination provisions, such as restrictive covenants.
  • Restrictions: It is usual to prohibit a director from engaging in business or professional activities outside the employment other than holding a minimum number of shares (generally 3%) in a publicly quoted company.
  • Restrictive Covenants:  Most Service Agreements will contain restrictions that will apply both during and after termination of employment. In order to be enforceable post termination restrictions must be carefully drafted, be considered to be in the public interest and restrict no more than what the courts refer to as a company’s legitimate business interest. Restrictive covenants should be tailored to each specific company and often to each specific director depending on the circumstances of the business and the individual. Any period of restriction after termination of employment must be reasonable and the Agreement should state that time spent on garden leave will be set off against the period of restriction after the employment has come to an end.
  • Best Interests Clause: It is implied in every director’s contract that the director will act in the best interests of the company at all times and in good faith but it is usual to include this in the contract as a specific term.
  • Duties: A director should understand and abide by the duties incumbent on him/her as laid down by the Companies Act. See more on this at the end of the article.
  • Directors’ and Officers’ Insurance:  If the company is to maintain directors’ and officers’ insurance, the director will usually want the comfort of including this obligation on the company in the Service Agreement.
  • Protecting the company’s confidential information: It is common practice to provide that the director shall not disclose confidential information of the company or its clients, nor make copies of such information, or retain after leaving the company such information or copies of it. It is also common practice to provide that all inventions made during, or in connection with the employment are the property of the company.
  • Termination: The agreement should cover the circumstances under which the company can terminate the agreement without notice or payment in lieu of notice (otherwise known as summary dismissal).
  • Directors AgreementsGarden Leave:  It is useful for a company to have the right to require a director to serve part of or the whole of the notice period on “garden leave” meaning that the director is prohibited from entering company premises, having access to the company’s computer systems or having contact with company clients, suppliers and employees. If a company wants to proceed in this way it must have the right in the Service Agreement and it is important to state the terms of the garden leave in writing to the director at the time that it commences, for example, that the director is prohibited from working for others during the period and that apart from the duty to work, the terms of the contract of employment will continue, including payment of basic salary. Some companies retain the right to appoint a replacement for a director on garden leave.

Directors Duties

It’s worth mentioning, and reminding readers that as part of the Companies Act 2006 the Government has codified the duties of directors so that directors are expected to:

  • act within the framework of the company’s constitution as well as avoiding conflicts of interest;
  • act in a way that promotes the success of the company for the benefit of all the shareholders;
  • take account of the company’s need to foster relationships with its employees, customers and suppliers, its need to maintain its business reputation and its need to consider the company’s impact on the community and the working environment;
  • to exercise the care, skill and diligence of a reasonably diligent person with both the knowledge, skill and experience which may reasonably be expected of a director in his/her position and with any additional knowledge, skill and experience which the particular director has;
  • exercise his/her powers for their proper purpose, use independent judgement when exercising those powers and will not be able to delegate powers unless authorised by the company’s constitution;
  • not to be able to transact with the company or allow the company to enter into transactions if he/her has an interest therein which he/her is required to disclose but has not disclosed; and
  • Directors Service Agreementsnot to accept any benefit conferred by a third party because of his/her powers or by way of reward for the exercise of those powers unless (a) the benefit is conferred by the company, or (b) the company has consented to it by ordinary resolution, or (c) the benefit is necessarily incidental to the proper performance of the director’s functions.

Further information

The Bizezia Online Library includes a PDF publication covering this subject. If you would like a copy, please email me at:

How to Ace the Consulting Case and Land the Job

How to Ace the Consulting Case and Land the Job

During-the-Interview (2)The management consulting recruitment process is known for being highly competitive in nature. Applicants prepare months in advance, especially for the case interview.

A recent article released by CNN suggests that management consulting firms are prioritising recruitment in 2014. To be more specific, Deloitte stated in the article that they are looking to fill roughly 12,000 vacant positions, whilst PricewaterhouseCoopers are also on the lookout for new hires (4,449).

These figures indicate that the consulting industry is still rapidly expanding and shows no signs of slowing down. Despite the need for new consultants, top consulting firms are making it clear that their standards for new recruits are not being compromised.

One of the ways that consulting recruiters ensure that they are hiring the best from each batch of applicants is through something called “the case interview” – a job interview in which the applicant is given a question, situation, problem or challenge and asked to resolve the issues.

Covering the Basics

Before reaching the case interview, a candidate has to be shortlisted. This takes years of preparation, obtaining the right credentials, joining the right clubs, and building a solid consulting network. Assuming all those are covered, the focus can rest entirely on the consulting case interview.

The most common scenarios that applicants encounter during the case interview are the following: organisation, start-ups and the release of a new product (risk and strategy). Applicants are recommended to familiarise themselves with these basic issues. Should you pass the interview process, it is highly unlikely that you will be immediately assigned high profile, complex projects.

Where to Find Sample Cases

One of the most asked questions that we receive from prospective consulting applicants is where to find relevant sample cases that they can practice on. There are a number of reliable sources that one can learn from. The first is your target firm’s website. McKinsey, Bain & Company and BCG have a set of samples on their respective website that are made up of real cases that they have encountered. Each website has their own way of guiding the applicant in going through the sample cases. McKinsey uses guide questions throughout the sample to provide hints for the reviewer, while Bain & Company includes a range of tools such as videos and multiple-choice questions.

Another great source for consulting cases is books. Case In Point, by Marc P. Cosentino, provides a selection of consulting sample cases, as well as informative tips on how to overcome and breakdown complex questions. This book is regarded as one of the best books for case interview preparation. Top MBA programs are known to purchase and recommend the latest editions of Case In Point for their students, members and staff.

Case Interview Frameworks

images (2)Once you have a set of sample cases, it’s time to apply the right case interview frameworks. It is nearly impossible to solve a case in the manner that the recruiter wants without using a consulting framework. Remember, what the recruiter is looking for is more than the right solution. He or she is more interested in how you came up with the correct set of options, including your thought process.

Case interview frameworks are designed to organise your method in solving the case through the use of categories and revealing questions. Each consulting firm has their own preferred frameworks that they find to be useful and superior. It is best to take note of your target firm’s set of frameworks that they rely on. This can give you insight on the type of cases that you might encounter.

Basic consulting frameworks such as SWOT Analysis and Seven S are a great way to start the case, as it can help identify problem areas. It is important to understand that it is not recommended to forcefully apply a framework to a case. This can be extremely misleading. Instead, adapt and use only part of the framework that is relevant to the type of case being presented.

Case Interview Skills

Apart from testing your analytic skills, case interviews test one’s ability to compute figures and data under pressure. Some interviewers even go off topic and ask more direct math questions such as, how many golf balls can fit in a standard freight container? Lastly, don’t forget to sharpen your communication skills. Confident message delivery can show the recruiter that you deserve the consulting position that you’re in the running for. Good luck!

daniel_stefanacAbout the author:
is a website that provides an online course and a selection of guides for consulting applicants. The online hub is owned by Daniel Stefanac, a former McKinsey consultant.

Through his shared knowledge and expertise in the consulting industry, numerous applicants have successfully landed their dream job. The consulting guides offered on the website covers key concerns of today’s prospective candidates such as writing a cover letter and resume, and case interview frameworks.

The changing nature of work and the birth of the weekend

The changing nature of work and the birth of the weekend

SofieBlogJust over a century ago, horrific employment practices were prevalent across Europe. Men, women and young children worked in mines and sweatshops for 16 hours a day in squalid conditions. The working environment was dangerous and accidents not uncommon. Fires, malfunctioning equipment often maimed and killed the main breadwinners leaving families to starve.

A lot has changed since then – particularly with the introduction of the concept of the weekend. Today, Europeans working full-time spend roughly 30% of their life working. Incidentally, that is the same amount of time they spend sleeping.

So what does it mean to be an employee in Europe today?

Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union and has since been developed by EU secondary legislation and the Case law of the European Court of Justice. EU citizens are entitled to:

  • look for a job in another EU country
  • work there without needing a work permit
  • reside there for that purpose
  • stay there even after employment has finished
  • enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages

The above is generally uncontroversial and is practiced throughout the member states on a daily basis. For instance, I am Swedish, but went to university and law school in London. I pay my taxes and national insurance contributions in the United Kingdom and I am registered as “emigrated” with the relevant Swedish authorities. Broadly speaking this means, I enjoy the same rights as a British citizen, save for voting in national elections. My job market is in theory not confined to Sweden or the United Kingdom. I am effectively competing for jobs with the working population of the entire European Union. I say in theory because my line of work does come with some inherent restrictions on the ability to practice in different jurisdictions which has in turn generated further Directives and case law. However, there is at present nothing that stops me from applying for a job in Sweden and provided that someone is willing to hire me, go through the motions of three years of practice and then an aptitude test before applying to the Swedish bar. Similarly, here in the UK a Swedish lawyer can become a Registered European Lawyer or take the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test.

Say what you like about the European Union but the principle of free movement of workers is something they actually got right.

We now have European citizens moving freely across member states and numerous efforts have already been made to streamline the employee rights of EU citizens. For instance, the respective Directives dealings with statements of particulars of employment, prohibition against discrimination or harassment in employment, working time, business transfers, and rules in relation to mass terminations or collective dismissals have largely been implemented across member states. The key word here is implemented as opposed to directly pasted into domestic legislation. This means that there is still scope for many quirks and differences.

However, the European Directive of 14th October 1991 (‘1991 Directive’) aims to ensure that the bare minimum for employment terms is reduced into writing.  For instance, in the UK within 2 months of employment an employer must provide the employee with their written statement of particulars of employment to include a set of information set out by statute.

If an employer fails to provide this statement, provides an inaccurate or incomplete statement or does not provide an employee with a statement of changes, an employee may make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal.

Where an employee has no other successful substantive claim, the only remedy will be a declaration from the Employment Tribunal either confirming the particulars as they stand, amending them or substituting others as it thinks appropriate.

Where the employee has a successful substantive claim, in addition to a declaration of particulars of employment, the employee may also be eligible for compensation if the Tribunal finds that at the employer was in breach of its duties. The additional compensation will, unless there are exceptional circumstances, be two or four weeks’ pay.

The requirement of a written statement of particulars outlining the terms of employment can be found in other member states as well.   These are all variations of implementation of the European 1991 Directive which requires employers to provide a written agreement with the essential terms of the contract, such as the names of the parties;  the place of the work;  the job position;  a brief characterisation or description of the job position;  the starting date;  for fixed term contracts, the term of the employment;  the duration or, if not possible the terms and conditions of annual leave;  the duration, or if possible, the terms and conditions of the notice period;  the amount and components of the compensation;  the daily or weekly working time;  and applicable collective bargaining agreements.

French Flag France has its own interpretation of this directive.  In France, a written employment contract is mandatory when an individual is hired as a temporary employee or is hired on a fixed term or part‑time contract.  Non-competition covenants are also required to be writing.  A written employment contract is not strictly required under French law in all of the cases, although it is recommended for evidentiary reasons.
German Flag In Germany, the statutory law requires only that employment contracts with temporary workers and those parts of contracts relating to fixed terms and post termination covenants not to compete be in writing.  Nevertheless, written employment contracts are best practice.  Like other jurisdictions having a written contract of employment is a way of ensuring that you are complying with the written summaries of essential terms of the employment relationship and in Germany this has to be done within one month of commencement.
Italian Flag In Italy, there is no requirement for written employment contracts.  As with other countries however to be valid certain conditions must be in writing, such as probationary period and any fixed term and non-competition clauses.  Interestingly enough on the other hand agency contracts must all be in writing.  The obligation in relation to what has to be reduced into the bare minimum, in Italy it only requires an employer to inform the employee within 30 days of starting a new employment of roughly the particulars that are set out in the directive above.
Netherlands Flag In the Netherlands, an employment contract can be agreed orally and does not have to be in writing.  Nevertheless, the Netherlands has also implemented a directive and an employer is obliged to provide the employee, within a month of the entry date of the employment, roughly the same information as discussed above, save for whether the employment contract is a secondment contract and whether social security legislation in the Netherlands was to be applicable for people working outside of the Netherlands.
Polish Flag In Poland an employment contract should be made in writing and should indicate at least the minimum particulars of employment.  If an employment contract has not been made in writing the employer should, not later than on the date when commenced, confirm to the employee in writing the details of the parties, the type of contract, terms and conditions of employment and remuneration.  In addition, the employer must inform the employee in writing about the basis terms and conditions of employment that apply to the employee not later than 7 days after the employment contract was entered into and about any changes in those conditions.  Although this appears to be slightly different than what’s been laid down by the directive, it is fairly similar.
Romanian Flag In Romania the individual employment agreement must be concluded in writing, based on the parties consent.  The written form represents a prerequisite for the validity of the agreement.  Prior to concluding the employment agreement, the employers are required to inform each employee of the general clauses to be included in the agreement.  The compulsory terms are fairly similar to the ones set out above.
Spanish Flag Spain is one of the exceptions. In Spanish employment law, the principle of oral contracts governs except as provided by fixed term agreements.
Swedish Flag In Sweden, an employment contract does not have to take any specific form.  However, as Sweden have implemented the Directive, employers are still under an obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employer relationship.  The employer must also provide certain information in writing concerning the principal terms of the employment.  This information must be provided to the employee within one month from their commencement of the employment.  These particulars are roughly the same as set out in 1991 Directive.

Having considered how the 1991 Directive has been implemented across Europe it still amazes me how many employers still have no written framework whatsoever. There were 191,541 claims accepted by the Employment Tribunal Service in the financial year 2012/13. Many of these arose from inadequately documented employment contracts or a failure to follow proper employment procedures and laws.

Disgruntled employees could still put their employers through defending an Employment Tribunal claim (however weak, scandalous or vexatious) to the tune of an average of £9,000 in legal fees. I think that drawing up standard employment contracts will be a lot cheaper than that.

Dealing with employees affected by cancer

Dealing with employees affected by cancer

CancerThis article covers a sensitive subject: guidance for employers when dealing with employees affected by cancer. It provides an introduction to some of the issues involved and has been excerpted from the Bizezia publication detailed at the end of the article.

Each year more than a quarter of a million people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer.   It has been estimated that more than one in three people will get some form of cancer at some point in their lives and for each diagnosis there is a family and friends who will be affected by that diagnosis. It therefore makes sense for employers to understand the facts about cancer and have a published policy for supporting employees affected by it.

All employers are required to give an employee information on their statutory rights. They should also direct them to further sources of information and support outside the organisation, concerning relevant statutory benefits; discussing cancer with their colleagues; counselling and other specialist support organisations.

Individuals respond differently to being told they have cancer, and each prognosis will be different depending upon the type of cancer and its current progress. In one employee it may cause anxiety and depression and they may need time to come to terms with their diagnosis. For another employee, it may be seen as something that has to be endured until they can get back to their normal life. Attitudes to work will also differ depending on the role work plays in their life. For some people, work may be a focal part of their life and they will be keen to continue working throughout their treatment. For others, work may just be a means of paying the bills and they may prefer to remain at home during their treatment. In some cases, an individual may rethink their lives and decide to change their working habits completely or retire.

Cancer will impact an individual’s availability for work while tests and treatments are being conducted. Their treatment may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other drugs that can cause unpleasant side effects. The symptoms of cancer or the side effects of treatment may reduce an individual’s effectiveness at work, although this may be temporary. It should be remembered that with advances in screening and treatments many cancers can be cured these days and an affected employee may return to full health and full productivity after their treatment.

Employers therefore need to recognise that each case needs to be considered individually and that employees who are diagnosed with cancer should be able to discuss their situation in a supportive manner. It should not be forgotten that employees may be affected by cancer even though they are not the sufferer and any cancer policy should consider the needs of the family of someone diagnosed with cancer.

What to do when an employee is diagnosed with cancer

stressatworkIf the company has a cancer, disability or serious illness policy in place this will provide a starting point for how the company manages an affected employee and their work. Even with an existing policy as a guide it must be remembered that each individual and their cancer is unique and will require a personalised course of treatment and therefore some level of personalised employer support.

At this early stage the employer has to strike a balance between the needs of the employee and the needs of the company with limited information. They may therefore need to take a flexible approach while allowing for consistency with previous (and future) cases of employee illness or disability.

The employee can choose to have a friend, employee or trade union representative with them during their initial (and subsequent) discussions. Notes from the initial meeting should be made available to all the meeting attendees, but not shared beyond the attendees without the written permission of the employee.

Logistically, both the line manager and HR may need to be informed to allow the company to provide appropriate support to the employee.

Implementing a policy for employees diagnosed with cancer

Employers should consider implementing a policy for employees diagnosed with cancer that outlines both their legal responsibilities and any additional support they wish to provide.

The policy should be applicable to both full-time and part-time permanent employees and allow for a customised approach that takes into account both the particular needs of the employee and the needs of the business.

The policy should include:

  • how the employee can inform the company of their cancer;
  • the employee’s confidentiality and privacy rights;
  • the work adjustments available to the employee during treatment;
  • the employee’s statutory rights with regard to absence and any other related company benefits;
  • the support (e.g. counselling) available to the employee;
  • the work adjustments available to the employee on return to work;
  • the employee’s statutory rights and any other company benefits if the employee decides to leave work; and
  • the recourse if the employee feels they have been treated unfairly as a result of cancer.

Employees affected by cancer

Cancer not only affects the sufferer but also their family, close friends and colleagues. A lot of the principles that apply to dealing with an employee diagnosed with cancer can also be applied to an employee who has a family member that has been diagnosed with cancer.

The employee may also need additional support, counselling, confidentiality, time off or flexible working to allow them to support their relative as they deem necessary. If their family member has terminal cancer they may wish to take a leave of absence to spend with their relative. (Where the cancer sufferer is a child, the employee will be legally entitled to up to 18 weeks parental leave to look after their child). They should be informed of their statutory rights and any other benefits or considerations regarding the absence and a communication means between the employee and employer should be agreed.

When the family member of an employee has died, the employee will require extra time off to make funeral arrangements and to deal with the ensuing affairs. The employer should offer their condolences and determine whether they should communicate the death to the employee’s colleagues.

Further information

This article only deals with a few aspects of how employers should deal with employees affected by cancer. The Bizezia Online Library includes a PDF publication covering this subject in much more depth. It includes a list of organisations that provide such support to cancer sufferers. It also includes guidance on a number of other issues, such as:

•    Confidentiality
•    Absence from work
•    Support and benefits
•    Working arrangements during treatment and recovery
•    Working during treatment
•    Returning to work
•    Managing a disability
•    Leaving work
Dealing with employees with cancer•    Terminal cancer
•    Implementing a cancer policy

Although not specific to absence from work due to cancer, Bizezia’s Work Manual includes a work policy that may be helpful for employers drawing up a caner work policy:  Employment Policy No.30 – Compassionate Leave Policy.

If you would like a copy of the PDF publication mentioned above, please email me at:

A Guide to Sick Pay – are you clued up on it?

A Guide to Sick Pay – are you clued up on it?

sick payAs we all know, the last few years have seen a shift from sick note to fit note. The employment contract should set out what sick pay an employee is entitled to and this will vary from job to job. As an over-riding principle, sick pay from work cannot offer an employee less than they are entitled to through Statutory Sick Pay.

The purpose of this article is to provide some clarity on what employees are entitled to and what employers are obliged to pay when an employee is unable to come to work through sickness.

The Fit Note

The fit note was introduced to replace the old sick note on 6 April 2010.  Doctors now issue fit notes to individuals to provide evidence of the advice the doctor has given about the individual’s fitness for work.  The fit note allows doctors to advise that individuals “may be fit for work” taking into account the doctor’s advice, or that they are “not fit for work”. For further information, visit the website, here.

Two types of Sick Pay

When an employee takes time off from work due to illness, they might be entitled to sick pay. There are two types of sick pay, which are:

  • Company Sick Pay (also called contractual or occupational sick pay)
  • Statutory Sick Pay

If an employer runs its own sick pay scheme it is a ‘company sick pay scheme’ and an employee should be paid what they are due under that. This will depend on what is included in their employment contract.

Where an employee isn’t entitled to anything under a company scheme, their employer should still pay them Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are eligible.

Company Sick Pay

An employer may offer a sick pay scheme that is more generous than SSP. The employer can offer any scheme that does not fall below the legal minimum.

Details of any company sick pay entitlement should be included in the written statement of employment particulars, which the employee should be given within two months of starting work. Where a company doesn’t offer a scheme, the written statement should say so.

Statutory Sick Pay

Employees may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is currently £86.70 a week for up to 28 weeks. You can offer more if you have a company sick pay scheme (but you can’t offer less). Company schemes are also called ‘contractual’ or ‘occupational’ sick pay and must be included in an employment contract.

Holiday (or ‘annual leave’)
Statutory annual leave is accrued while the employee is off work sick (no matter how long they’re off) and can be taken during sick leave. If an employee is sick after 28 weeks of company sick pay, or if this ends earlier and they are not entitled to SSP. More information is available here.

A typical Company Sick Pay scheme

Company sick pay schemes vary from employer to employer. A typical sick pay scheme usually starts after a minimum period of service (e.g., a three month probationary period). An employee would then receive their normal pay during any period that they are off work due to illness, up to a specified number of weeks. After this, they are likely to receive half-pay for a further period before any sick leave they take becomes unpaid.

Proof of sickness
An employer may set out how an employee should tell them that they are sick (e.g. ring in before a certain time of the day). Usually they will be able to self-certify for a week of illness, beyond that a doctor’s note is normally needed.

An employer can choose to make an exception and pay an employee sick pay even if they don’t qualify under the company rules. Also, some sick pay schemes say that payments are ‘at the employer’s discretion’, which means an employer can refuse payment if they think the absence is unjustified. However, in doing so they must ensure that their decision is free from discrimination (that is, they are not favouring one category of employee over another when they are required not to).

If an employer has chosen to pay discretionary sick pay in the past this does not automatically mean they have to in the future. However, it is sometimes possible for a discretionary arrangement to become a part of an employee’s contract through ‘custom and practice’.

Work related sickness
The amount of sick pay an employee gets isn’t usually affected by the cause of their sickness. An employer may have a special scheme in place for workplace injuries.

If an employer is responsible for an employee’s incapacity they may have a legal right to make a personal injury claim. This applies to both a physical or psychological injuries (e.g., stress).

Time off to care for a sick dependant
An employee might be able to take time off to care for a sick dependant. However, their employer does not have to pay them for this time unless their contract says they should.

If an employer refuses to pay an employee sick pay that they are due, this is classed as an ‘unlawful deduction from wages’. The employee might be able to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

What else employees should know

  • If an employee goes into hospital, SSP isn’t affected.
  • If an employee works abroad, they may be able to get SSP if their employer pays National Insurance contributions for them.
  • If an employee goes abroad to visit, they may still claim SSP if they can prove they’re still sick.
  • Serving members of the Armed Forces cannot get SSP, but members of their families may be able to get it.

SSP and insolvency

A guide to Sick payIf an employer does not pay an employee SSP because they are insolvent, payment will be made by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC). They will only do this when the employer has been formally declared insolvent. HMRC will take over the payment from and including the week of insolvency. Any payments before that date must be paid by the employer.

Further information

The Bizezia Online Library includes a PDF publication covering this subject. If you would like a copy, please email me at:

Have you got a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Work Policy?

Have you got a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Work Policy?

BYODWith the proliferation of smartphones and other devices with access to emails and the Internet, many employers are now introducing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work policy. This policy is concerned with allowing, and in some cases, requiring employees to bring personally-owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones and notebooks – together defined as “devices”) to their workplace, and to use those devices to access privileged company information and application.

Careful thought needs to be made before BYOD is introduced into any organisation. Some say that it may help employees to be more productive. They also say it increases employee morale and convenience by using their own devices and makes the organisation look like a flexible and attractive employer. But others say it increases the exposure of an organisation’s network to cyberattacks and the spreading of malware. Allowing the use of personal devices, without first implementing an appropriate policy and technical controls, is courting danger.

By the way, perhaps I should explain that BYOD may also be called Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) or Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC). References to POD mean personally-owned device.

Good Practice Guide

BYOD 1Dell publish a good practice guide, here:  It says that an organisation needs to decide which platforms will be supported and how. This includes determining whether to support BlackBerry, iOS, Android, Windows, or Symbian operating systems (or some combination of those). At a minimum, Dell suggest that the organisation must answer the following questions:

  • What devices and mobile operating systems can we support?
  • What are our security requirements at each level: devices, applications, and data access?
  • What risks are we introducing by letting employees access corporate data through their personal devices? What level of tolerance do we have for those risks?
  • How can we manage our mobile deployment in a BYOD world without risking sensitive data or intruding on employee’s rights to privacy on devices they own?

On the subject of security, IBM has published a very useful guide called: Security Essentials for CIOs and it can be downloaded free of charge from here.

Recommendation and Notes

It is strongly recommended that employers should take legal and IT advice from experienced professionals before implementing a BYOD policy. As with all work policies, you should obtain legal advice before implementation if you are uncertain about anything. There may be issues of ownership (Computer Misuse Act 1990), which do not normally arise where devices are company-owned.

In any event, developing a company BYOD policy should be carefully thought through before allowing employees to use their own smartphones, tablets or notebooks within an organisation’s network.

Irrespective of the security precautions mentioned elsewhere in the BYOD policy, employees should use their device in an ethical manner and in accordance with the Acceptable Use Policy provisions that are set by the employer.

Policy overview

Employees who prefer to use their personally-owned IT equipment for work purposes must be explicitly authorised to do so, must secure corporate data to the same extent as on corporate IT equipment, and must not introduce unacceptable risks (such as malware) onto the corporate networks by failing to secure their own equipment.

Employers must document the terms of their BYOD policy to address the rights and obligations of both owners of a POD used for the company’s work and the company’s rights and obligations to protect and own its data on these devices.

The employers should have the right to withdraw the privilege of POD usage at work if users do not abide by the policies and procedures outlined in the policy document: the policy is intended to protect the security and integrity of company data and technology infrastructure.

Ideally, employees must agree to the terms and conditions set out in the formal policy in order to be able to connect their devices to the company network.

The BYOD policy should also address the following issues:

  • Access
  • Employees’ Privacy
  • List of permitted Devices and Support provided
  • Connectivity
  • Device Security
  • Other Security
  • Acceptable Business and Personal Use
  • Permitted Access
  • Forbidden Usage
  • Reimbursement policy
  • Risks/Liabilities/Disclaimers
  • Ownership
  • Compliance with the Law
  • Software and Data
Businesses and professional firms may well require IT experts to review the implementation of a BYOD policy. Likewise, they will also need to be sure that they are complying with the law and that their BYOD policy is soundly structured from a legal point of view.

With this in mind, we are in the process of establishing arrangements with lawyers across the country and and already have an arrangement with an IT specialist firm able to give advice on the important considerations involved.

Click here to view the latest list of specialist advisors for BYOD

If you are interested in getting involved or have any queries, please email me at

Work Manual script Work Manual 146I’ve recently written an outline of a BYOD work policy, which is soon to become part of Bizezia’s Work Manual system (see for details and subscription rates). If you would like to see the draft policy statement, please email me at:

[Updated 19 February 2014]

How did BYOD emerge

My research shows that BYOD first entered the business world in 2009, courtesy of Intel when it recognised an increasing tendency among its employees to bring their own phones to work and connect them to the corporate network. It started slowly but took off in 2011 when IT services provider Unisys and software vendors VMware and Citrix Systems started to share their perceptions of this emergent trend. My view is that BYOD started for real when the smartphones came onto the scene and accelerated when the iPhone was introduced. Blackberry also had a big influence on the early BYOD movement when large organisations, as well as even smaller ones, required employees to have a Blackberry.

Also, the awareness of technology among employees has risen exponentially with the advent of smartphones. Perhaps it started out as COPE (corporate-owned personally-enabled) – a business model in which firms provide employees with mobile computing devices and allows them to be used as if they were personally-owned. But BYOD (bring your own device) now leads the field even though companies can usually buy IT products at better prices than employees can.

B Y O DThe emergence of the Windows operating system and SkyDrive (now named OneDrive) used across devices coupled with Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia, will push the BYOD further.

The research revealed that despite the BYOD (bring your own devices) trend continuing to surge with more than two thirds (71%) of establishments admitting to ‘bringing their own devices’, almost a third (30%) are still without a specific IT strategy in place to manage the process, putting their IT systems at detrimental risk.

The new kid on the block may well be WYODAW (wear your own device at work) – particularly if Google Glass has anything to do with it!

How do accountants go about embracing BYOD for their firms and clients?

A useful source of information for me has been BYOD Enterprise Mobility Policy Guidebook published by Fiberlink, an IBM company at  They provide plenty of downloads at Their BYOD Policy Guide is particularly helpful and, combined with the draft work policy I have drafted, will form a useful base from which accountants and their clients can roll out a programme to implement BYOD in their own firms and also for clients.

Does the manual also cover the best tax treatments of BYOD?

I have been asked whether the Work Manual covers the best tax treatment for BYOD: it doesn’t – at least at present. I have spoken with Mark Lee (former ICAEW Tax Faculty Chairman and now Consultant Practice Editor of AccountingWeb) and he is looking into what tax information might be made available to accountants who wish to go down (or up) the BYOD road. His initial thought is that unless the employer makes a contribution towards the costs of the device – for example, to pay a monthly contribution to cover work-related use of the personal device – there are probably no tax factors to take into account, at least for the employers.

By the way, I read a good strap line somewhere on the web: “With BYOD smartphones on the rise, IT headaches will become migraines”.  I also read that a study by Altodigital has revealed a “potential IT nightmare waiting to happen” as educational institutions fail to properly manage BYOD. This serves to confirm the need to plan and implement a policy before linking up and allowing access to corporate networks from PODs (personally-owned devices).

Other Considerations

There may be insurance factors to consider when implementing a BYOD or WYODAW policy – I will research this and blog on it at a later date.

Will Wear Your Own Device At Work be the thing of future?

google glass

[Updated 4 March 2014]

Now an earpiece PC can track behaviour based on facial expressions

I see that a team of Japanese engineers are testing a tiny personal computer that fits into your ear, and is controlled by eye blinks or tongue clicks. The article in PCMag, says that “as if talking into an almost hidden Bluetooth earpiece didn’t make you look crazy enough, this 17-gram wireless device gets its cues from wearers through tongue clicks and facial expressions, according to The Japan Times.”

It follows in the footsteps of wearable computing hardware like Google Glass, this miniature machine—planned to launch as a consumer device by the end of 2015 — includes a microchip and data storage. It can also be connected to another gadget, like an iPod, a tablet, or a smartphone, to navigate apps using facial expressions. Want to open iTunes? Just raise your right eyebrow. Or stick out your tongue to browse the Web, wiggle your nose to send a text message, and clench your teeth to take a photo.

[Updated 17 March 2014]

Public WiFi security risks prompts a BYOD policy poser, says expert

It would be “impractical” for many businesses that operate a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy to completely ban employees from carrying out work activities over public WiFi networks despite the associated security risks, an expert from Pinsent Masons has said.

The expert, information law specialist Marc Dautlich of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said, however, that businesses can take steps to mitigate the risks of mobile working over public WiFi connections. He said that businesses have to decide whether to accept the risks and which approach to addressing them best meets their needs.

Dautlich was commenting after Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, warned about the methods criminals are using to access information sent over public WiFi networks. Troels Oerting, assistant director of Europol and head of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), told the BBC that mobile internet users should not send sensitive information over public WiFi networks.

You can read what Marc Dautlich said, here.

Email Etiquette Guidance Policy – who needs one?

Email Etiquette Guidance Policy – who needs one?

office emailThe answer is that everyone needs an Email Etiquette Guidance Policy.  Email continues to be an evolving communication media and although it shares many of the qualities of the telephone, letter and face-to-face conversation, it is different in its etiquette.

More established methods of communication have defined etiquette that we all recognise; stating your name when you answer the phone, signing your name to letters you write or saying goodbye at the end of a conversation. Apart from being polite, this etiquette provides the important framework with which people communicate with each other. Email is still comparatively new (don’t forget that the Internet itself as we know it, is still only 25 years old) and therefore some people remain unsure how to communicate with it, which leads to confusion, misunderstanding and possibly hurt feelings where none were intended.

Email essentials

Gradually, a worldwide Email etiquette is developing, and as such many firms are recommending, but not enforcing, guidance for the use of Email.  Some of the issues to consider are listed below:

  • Have a clear subject, title or topic line: It is frustrating for those who receive a lot of Email not to be able to quickly gauge the relevance and subject matter of a message they have received. Similarly searching for a previously opened ambiguously titled message amongst other ambiguously titled messages wastes time. The subject/topic/title line of an Email should therefore be worded clearly and accurately to represent the content of your message. Consider this carefully when replying or forwarding an Email, as you have the opportunity to make changes in the subject line.
  • One message, one topic: Don’t try to cram multiple topics into one message, particularly if you require replies to different questions. It is usually less anxiety producing and easier to read when receiving several shorter Emails rather than one long one. It also makes it easier for your recipient to manage their Emails, as specific messages can be categorised easily.emails
  • Be responsive:  People expect a reply to most messages. Ensure you check your Email account regularly and when you receive a message attempt to read and respond to it within a reasonable amount of time (couple of days at most). Even if you cannot thoroughly read it or create a response it is polite to send a short reply to the sender to let them know you have received the Email and will provide a proper rely when you can. It would be a good idea to offer a date or time as to when they can expect a reply from you.  When you are away from your Email system for a reasonable amount of time, be sure to have an automated response or colleague responding for you, to tell senders that you are away and when you will be back.
  • Stay organised: It is a very good idea to manage your Email folders. Delete unwanted and unimportant Emails (keeping in mind any policies required to keep records) and organise and archive your remaining messages in a logical fashion. This helps you keep track of your Emails and, in the event that you are away and someone needs access to your messages, they will have a reasonable chance of finding what they are looking for.Email organised
  • Always read your Email before sending: Read your Email before you send it. This will help you catch any mistakes and keep your recipients from being confused. Particularly if you wrote it in the heat of the moment or off the cuff you may want to rethink the tone and content. Remember that once you send something, you’ve lost control of the information. It is also a good idea to check your intended recipients, particularly when replying.
  • Be Explicit: When writing Emails it is very important to explicitly convey the sense in which you write it. Readers of your Emails may easily get the wrong impression, particularly if you use irony or humour in your messages. Although not particularly professional, and to some people very annoying, the use of emoticons (emotional icons) provides some ability to insert a sense of how you are saying something. An example of a simple emoticon is the “smiley face”   🙂   Emoticons can have a specific meaning so it is not recommended to use complex ones without knowing their specific etiquette.emoticons
  • Cautiously include Personality: Writing the way you speak is a very natural way of writing. However those not familiar with who you are will most likely not be able to appreciate the extra personality you put into messages. It is a good idea not to write in your personal style unless you know the person you are sending the mail to you and you are sure that message will go to no one else.
  • Keep it Brief: Most people do not enjoy reading Emails off of a computer screen, particularly if they are longer than the visible height of the screen. Where possible, keep it short. The following section has some helpful suggestions on how to do so.Email breif
  • Paste only the useful bits for a reply: When replying to a statement and pasting the original statement into your message, only use the most relevant bits of it, rather than the whole of the original message.
  • Break up the block of text: If write a long message, ensure there are appropriate indentations or line spaces to keep the text from become one giant block of works. Give your recipient’s eyes some reference points.
  • Keep it Simple: Email tools usually provide a variety of ways to format the messages you send. Not all of the options available aid in communication and changes from the standard template of black lettering in a standard font on a white background should be used sparingly. The following section offers things to consider.simple email
  • Make it readable: Colour changes to the text and backgrounds are often available in Email tools. If you choose to change the colours of such things, make sure that the end product is easy to read. For instance, yellow text on a white background is not particularly easy to see.  Additionally, there may be a variety of fonts to use. Although it can be fun to change fonts, remember that deviation from the standard Arial, Verdana or Times New Roman can be annoying to some people, and may give the wrong impression depending on the style of font. Remember that Arial or Verdana text is easiest to read on a computer screen, while Times New Roman is best on a printed page.
  • DON’T USE ALL CAPITALS or all lower case: Using all capitals is the equivalent of Shouting. Using all lower case letters looks lazy and unprofessional, but has no particular letters
  • Use correct punctuation: Punctuation is an important part of written communication. Strange punctuations are as bad as missing punctuations. Most people will appreciate not having to decipher your message due to punctuation mistakes.

Implementing an Email Etiquette Guidance Policy

Email is so easy and convenient to use people tend to send them without considering how many Emails their recipient may get in a day.  In the Email Etiquette Policy (part of Bizezia’s Work Manual) it offers additional advice to keep the number of Emails down and to handle what you receive as effectively as possible. If you are getting too many Emails, this guidance provides some etiquette on how to ask people to reduce the amount of Emails they send to you. There’s also a section on common courtesies you should always use.

There’s an Email Etiquette Guidance Policy, which is part of Bizezia’s Work Manual system (see details and subscription rates). If you would like to see the policy statement, please email me at:

360-Degree Feedback

360-Degree Feedback

Some time ago, I came across the following quote from Professor Clive Fletcher, Goldsmiths College, University of London, and it inspired me to investigate what 360-Degree Feedback actually meant:

“The concept of 360-degree feedback makes a lot of sense and, if used well, should have a great deal to offer. It seems to suit the move towards the less hierarchical, more flexibly-structured and knowledge-based organisations of the future”

This paper is but a brief commentary on the subject. At the end of the paper, I have provided some links to further resources and information if you want to explore it further.

feedbackThe original idea of developing Best Practice Guidelines in 360-degree feedback was developed from a collaborative research project, The Feedback Project. The Project Director was Professor Christine Farrell. You can access the document online at:

In today’s changing and volatile world, organisations are continually looking for ways to improve performance, and satisfy the demands of all stakeholders. Achieving this almost inevitably involves change, which then becomes the pivotal dynamic for success.

For an organisation to evolve, the people working within it will have to adapt; and for this to be successful, they first of all need to know what it is about the way they are currently performing that needs to change.

This is where 360-degree feedback is playing a growing role in organisations through its ability to provide structured, in depth information about current performance and what will be required of an individual in the future to enable detailed and relevant development plans to be formulated.

Professionally managed, 360-degree feedback increases individual self-awareness, and as part of a strategic organisational process can promote:

  • Increased understanding of the behaviours required to improve both individual and organisational effectiveness;
  • More focused development activities, built around the skills and competencies required for successful organisational performance;
  • Increased involvement of people at all levels of the organisation;
  • Increased individual ownership for self-development and learning;
  • Increased familiarity with the implications of cultural or strategic change.


360-degree feedback is a process whereby an individual (the recipient) is rated on their performance by people who know something about their work (the raters). This can include direct reports, peers and managers and in some cases customers or clients, in fact anybody who is credible to the individual and is familiar with their work can be included in the feedback process. This is usually in addition to completing a self-assessment on performance. The resulting information is presented to the individual with the aim of helping them to gain a better understanding of their skills and development areas.

Each source can provide a different perspective on the individual’s skills, attributes and other job relevant characteristics and thus help to build up a richer, more complete and accurate picture than could be obtained from any one source.

The Role of Technology in 360-degree Feedback

Increasingly, computers are used to support 360-degree feedback processes, and have considerable advantages in reducing the administration and in gathering feedback where people work on different sites and in different countries. When gathering information in this way, particularly where the Internet is the medium, it is important to ensure the process is secure and that the information will remain confidential to the agreed people involved in the process.


Books etc on the subject (some of these may be out of date or may have been updated since I first prepared the list):

  • Alimo-Metcalfe, B. (1998). 3600 Feedb ack and Leadership Development. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 6, 35-44.
  • Armstrong, M. and Baron, A. (1998). Performance Management Feature: Out of the tick box. People Management, 23 July, 38-41.
  • Chivers, W. and Darling, P. (1999) 360-degree Feedback and Organisational Culture. Institute of Personnel and Development, London.
  • Fletcher, C. (1998) ‘Circular Argument’ People Management, 1st October, 46-49.
  • Fletcher, C (1997) Appraisal: Routes to Improved Performance. Institute of Personnel and Development, London.
  • Fletcher, C. (1997) Self-awareness – a neglected attribute in selection and assessment? International Journal of Selection and Assessment, vol 5, 183-187.
  • Fletcher, C., Baldrey, C., & Cunningham-Snell, N. (1998). The psychometric properties of 360-degree feedback; an empirical study and a cautionary tale. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, vol 6, 19-34.
  • Fletcher, C. and Baldry, C. (1999). Multi-source feedback systems: a research perspective. In C.L. Cooper and I.T. Robertson (Eds.) International Review of Industrial and Organizational psychology, Vol. 14. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
  • Garrow, V. (1999) A Guide to the Implementation of 360-degree feedback. Roffey Park Institute Limited, Sussex.
  • 360 FeedbackGeake, A., Oliver, K. and Farrell, C. (1998). The Application of 360-Degree Feedback: A Survey. SHL, Thames Ditton, Surrey.
  • Goodge, P. and Watts, P. (2000). How to manage 360-degree feedback, People Management, 17th February 50-52.
  • Handy, L., Devine, M., & Heath, L. (1996) 3600 Feedback: Unguided Missile or Powerful Weapon. Ashridge Management Research Group, UK.

In the Bizezia online library, you will find 360-Degree Feedback the text for which I wrote some 5 or 6 years ago. If you would like a copy of it, please email me at:

Employee Internet Use Policy – Does Your Business Have One?

Employee Internet Use Policy – Does Your Business Have One?

Here are two simple questions for you to consider:

  • Do you have employees who use your computers and telecommunications equipment to access the Internet?
  • Do they send emails?

Another question: Did you know that an employer can be responsible for emails sent under its name?  The doctrine of vicarious liability applies equally to emails as it does to other forms of correspondence. It means that if the recipient of an email reasonably believes that the email has been sent by someone representing the sender, he/she is entitled to take the contents of that email as representing the views of the sending company.

Personal use of telephones, mobiles, copiers, faxes etc pale into insignificance compared with the problems that can result from non-business, improper and unauthorised use of the Internet or email. It’s a strange fact that whilst few employees would ever consider sending their personal letters on their employer’s letterhead, that’s exactly what they do when they use business email to send personal messages.

Internet usage policyShould you have an Internet Use Policy?

Should businesses have an Internet Use Policy? In my view they should. Internet Use includes not only surfing the web but also sending and receiving email, page and file downloads, viruses and anything else that is available online. An Internet Use Policy is about sending and receiving, who owns what, and what kind of monitoring should employees expect.

When setting an Internet use Policy, the most important points are that the Employer needs to:

  • state what is and is not appropriate use of the Internet,  email, and other electronic resources;
  • state what the consequences are of breaking the policy;
  • protect itself, its employees, and its assets from misuse of electronic communication resources.

Employers should provide their employees with clear guidelines about which uses of the Internet are proper, and which uses are not. Employees need to be educated in the potential risks involved when sending emails or accessing the Internet. A clear policy that is enforced will help the employer reduce its risk of liability from improper Internet use.

Sending a few personal emails may not cost an employer much in lost productivity, but it raises several legal and moral issues:

  • Emails are not confidential, and can be read by users with appropriate permission or expertise.
  • The use of the “Reply All” key in place of the “Reply” key could result in an email being sent to an inappropriate recipient list.
  • Opening email attachments from a dubious source may cause a virus or malware to be downloaded to your system. New viruses are created daily, and even the most sophisticated virus checking software cannot guarantee to block all insidious programs.
  • Opening emails from an unknown source may result in information about your system being uploaded to the mail sender. This information can then be used for sending “spam” mail.
  • Downloading files from websites can import viruses and malware.
  • Information that identifies the “surfing” system can be registered when accessing a website. This could have legal implications if the site contains illegal matter.
  • Though legislation on Internet use is still in its infancy, employers face a possible legal liability for the Internet use of their employees.
  • Employee emails that offend or harass recipients could see employers facing legal action.
  • Emails have the same legal standing as other forms of communication to and from a company. Their inadvertent misuse could result in binding contracts being created.
  • Employers might also be liable for any other unlawful use of company IT resources – for example, if employees infringe copyright law by downloading and disseminating publications.

Formulating and disseminating an Internet use policy and the implementation of appropriate disclaimers on all external emails will reduce your legal risks as an employer.

Internet connectivity is almost ubiquitous among organisations across the world. The speed of access to the Internet at work combined with unsupervised time and little or no accountability adds up to hours of non-work-related web surfing and millions of £s in lost productivity. An average of 30% to 40% of employee Internet activity is not business related. Without an Internet use policy, your business is legally responsible for all such activity.

Drawing up Your Policy

An Internet Use policy need not be a lengthy document. It just needs to be clear and consistent about what your business does and does not accept. It should contain information on the disciplinary consequences of any policy breaches thus making it easier to take action against an employee who steps out of line.

Action Points
  • You could include the policy in employee induction manuals and ask your employees to sign off on the policy to indicate that they have read and understood it.
  • You can also monitor the IT use of your employees with special software. However, take care – there are legal issues you need to be aware of. If employees are monitored without their knowledge, their privacy rights may be breached.

Negative Aspects of Monitoring

Telling your employees that they are subject to monitoring may reduce the chances of a privacy breach, but it could also have a negative effect on their productivity. People tend to work differently when they are being monitored, as they often feel more self-conscious.

Another problem with monitoring is that someone needs to do it. Software might scan for obscene language, for example, and some software will block out porn or gambling websites. But no software program can adequately assess whether an email is defamatory. Somebody would need to sift through a lot of material to monitor even a fraction of the electronic traffic that circulates in an office of any size.

But while the contents of the Internet Use Policy may vary from business to business, it’s clear that every organisation should have one.

Employment experts ACAS provide a guide to Social Media use, which can be found here.

There’s an Internet Use Policy as part of Bizezia’s Work Manual.  If you email me at, putting Internet Use Policy in the subject line, I’ll send you a specimen of the policy.

Closing words

Work Manual 146In closing this paper, I should mention a few things about Work Manual. With it, you can create your own office policies and procedures manual on a fully-editable online system. Additionally, for example if you are an accountant or other advisory firm, you can use Work Manual to create office policies and procedures manuals as an additional fee-generating service to your clients.

Work Manual now comes with templates for Contracts of Employment, Written Employment Particulars and a comprehensive editable Job Description Library as well as optional additional work policies.

View more details about Work Manual.

Changing Employment Terms… A Brief Guide

Changing Employment Terms… A Brief Guide

It’s generally easy to change employment terms that are beneficial to employees such as an increase in pay or provision of a car allowance. It’s a totally different thing if you want to change terms that are less acceptable to an employee, for example a pay cut.

First, you need to determine whether the change affects the employment contract, and if so, how to make a legally binding change. provide some useful guidance on changing an employment contract, and it is available online, here.

You should make sure you:

  • Familiarise yourself thoroughly with the details of any existing contracts before considering what alterations you want to make;
  • Consult your staff about any changes you wish to introduce and include their trade union or other elected representatives. Simply imposing changes could mean a claim by employees for damages in a civil court, employment tribunal, or a constructive dismissal claim before an employment tribunal;
  • Discuss any changes with your staff in a thorough and detailed way, fully explaining the reasons for any planned alteration and take into consideration the impact of the proposed changes in individual circumstances;
  • Try, if agreement cannot be reached with an employee on changes, to negotiate a new contract;
  • Put as much in writing as possible.

Does the employment contract need amendment?

employment termsA contract is a legally binding agreement between you and your employee, which is formed when the employee agrees to work for you for pay.

A change of terms will not require a change to the contract of employment where the change is simply a change in practice or where:

  • the existing contract allows the employer to change its terms;
  • the existing contractual terms are flexible enough to allow the proposed change without change (for example, a clause which requires an employee to carry out a range of duties);
  • the employer has a specific right to change the contract in this way.

However, the above options are not without problems and should only be used to make minor and reasonable changes to the terms that are beneficial to the employee. Specific flexibility clauses may be limited by implied terms (such as the obligation on the employer to act reasonably) and will be given a restrictive interpretation by a tribunal. Note that where flexibility clauses are open to interpretation, this interpretation will favour the employee.

If it is determined that the contract does need amending, then this can only be done with the employee’s agreement or within the scope of the existing terms which must be scrutinised.

The “contract” is made up of both oral and written agreements and may include:

  • Express terms which are terms explicitly agreed between the employer and employee;
  • Implied terms which may include:
    –       terms that are too obvious to mention (e.g. that the employee will not steal from the employer);
    –       those necessary to make the contract workable (e.g. that a person employed as a driver must have a current driving licence) – though it is often better to write down such terms in any case; and
    –       those that are the custom and practice of the business or industry;
  • Terms incorporated into individual contracts by reference to other documents, such as company handbooks or collective agreements with trade unions;
  • Terms imposed by law (e.g. the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of race or sex).

Non-contractual benefits and “policies” do not form part of the contractual terms. Altering non-contractual terms can also lead to discrimination claims and claims of breach of the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence. Note that just stating that a term is non-contractual does not make it so. If in doubt, seek legal advice.

How to change the contract

Where the change in terms does require the existing contract to be changed and the existing contract does not allow for this, the employer may consider the following options. Note that the employer must also provide the employee with a written statement of any changes to terms.

Express agreement

The employer can seek express agreement for the change in terms from the employee (or where it is appropriate through a binding collective agreement with a trade union or other collective body). Legally, the employee may agree to the employer’s proposals orally although it is safer to get written agreement. The employee must receive a consideration in return for the change in terms for the contractual amendment to be considered binding. In some cases, where the change has immediate effect, the employee’s continued employment can qualify as the consideration.

Implied agreement

Where the change has an immediate impact on the employee, the employer could consider introducing the change and hoping that the employee does not object so that their implied agreement to the new terms can be established. However, even if an employee continues to work without objection that does not guarantee implied agreement – particularly if the impact of the change of terms is delayed.

Such an imposed change of terms is a breach of contract and the employee may respond by:

  • refusing to work under the new terms;
  • resigning and bringing a constructive dismissal claim against the employer; or
  • “standing and suing”, where the employee works “under protest” and brings a breach of contract claim or in the case of a pay cut a claim for unlawful deductions from wages.

Termination and re-engagement

An employer may choose to terminate the existing contract and offer continued employment under the new, varied terms. In this case, the employer must comply with the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures for the dismissal not to be automatically unfair.

Again this strategy is not without risk and the employee may respond by:

  • bringing a claim for unfair dismissal, unless the employer can establish a potentially fair reason for dismissal and show that it acted reasonably in dismissing the employee for failure to agree to the change.
  • Bringing a claim for wrongful dismissal unless the employer gives the appropriate period of notice (or makes a payment in lieu of notice).

It should be noted that where the employer terminates the contracts of all employees “of a description or in a category to which the employee belongs” and then re-engages the employees then the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures may not apply. However, if the proposed change singles out a particular group of employees (for example older employees), then this could give rise to a claim of indirect discrimination.

In addition, where the collective consultation obligations apply then the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures may not apply. Where this approach is used to terminate the contracts of multiple employees the dismissals may be considered as redundancies for certain purposes. If 20 or more employees are affected the employer must notify the Secretary of State and comply with the statutory collective consultation obligations.

contracts of employmentThe employer will be required to inform and consult its employees in a number of circumstances, such as:

  • where the employer proposes to change the terms by terminating the contracts of 20 or more employees;
  • where there is a recognised trade union and the proposed change of terms may be subject to collective bargaining with trade union representatives.

Final words

Some time ago, I wrote the text for a couple of publications in Bizezia’s online business library dealing with Contracts of Employment and Changing Employment Terms. If you would like a copy of either (or both) of these, please email me at:

Why Your Company (definitely) needs a Work Manual

Why Your Company (definitely) needs a Work Manual

Work Manual PubicationProviding your employees with a Work Manual that includes both company policies and company procedures helps both your business and your employees. You might expect me to say that as I authored a publication on this subject.

Having a Work Manual helps set employee expectations about the company’s work environment and communicates corporate standards and procedures.


A Work Manual can be referred to or described as Office Manual, Employee Handbook, Policy and Procedures Manual… but, in essence, they are all the same thing.

A policy can be part of your employee/company handbook or you could set it out in a separate document. However, for your discipline and grievance policies, you must either set them out in the written statement or refer in the written statement to a place where the employee can read them, for example, on the company intranet.

A Work Manual can help your business increase professionalism and efficiency in the following ways:

•  As a reference point for employees so that HR/managers do not have to repeatedly answer questions on policies or procedures.
•  As a training tool that can be used to help with employee induction.
•  As a guide for how your employees should deal with customers
•  As a manual to improve the quality and consistency of service you provide to customers.
•  As a means of clarifying who is responsible for specific tasks within the business.
•  As a reference guide to help settle employee misunderstandings and avoid conflicts.
•  By providing clear rules to protect your company from potential misuse of computer systems and IT resources.
•  As evidence of company expectations should you need to dismiss an employee.

The benefits to employees and the business

A Work Manual doesn’t just help employers. Employees also like to know where they stand.

A Work Manual helps employees by:

•  Providing clear guidelines on how to do their job and what is expected of them.
•  employeesProviding information on how an employee can expect to be dealt with by both the employer and other employees.
•  Creating a culture where issues are dealt with fairly and consistently.
•  Acting as a motivational tool by outlining the opportunities that are available to employees in terms of training, career advancement and flexible working practices.
•  Setting policies that help identify and prevent potential risks to employees (e.g. health and safety/money laundering) and ensure that they comply with the law.
•  Setting standards to reduce the need for disciplinary and legal action.

What should you include in the Office or Work Manual?

Here, I look at the policies, procedures and other information you should include in a Work Manual. Some key policies must be provided by law whilst others should be considered for best practice.

Work policies generally aren’t contractually binding unless they expressly state otherwise. However, terms of some policies could be seen as contractually binding via custom and practice, for example, where workers follow certain working practices or receive certain benefits over a significant period of time.

TableIn those areas where having a policy is not a legal requirement, it’s still good practice to have one so that workers understand what you expect of them and what they can expect to get in return. Policies also help to create a culture where issues are dealt with fairly and consistently.

You don’t have to have a staff policy on every single aspect of your business. Indeed some types of policy may be irrelevant or unhelpful. However, you are legally required to have written policies on certain things such as disciplinary and grievance procedures and health and safety (if you have five or more employees).

Table 1 shows the policies which are a legal requirement and which are not.

It also makes good business sense to set out your expectations on more general company policies such as confidentiality, ownership of copyright and designs, dress code and use of company facilities.

The policies that you implement will depend on the size and nature of your business: different policies will be more relevant to some businesses than others.

What policies should you adopt?

The policies that you have will depend on the size and nature of your business. For example, if your employees operate machinery, it may be a good idea to implement a specific policy on drugs and alcohol use. If most of your employees use computers most of the time, you should have an e-mail and internet policy.

Setting standards is the key to healthy workplace relations. It can reduce the need for disciplinary and legal action. It may also increase productivity and morale, as well as help employee retention.

Clear policymaking can also be positive for your business’ reputation externally, e.g. among clients and the local community. It can also help in attracting new staff.

NOTE: It is a legal requirement to set out your health and safety policy in writing if you have five or more employees. It is also a legal requirement to set out your disciplinary rules and discipline and grievance procedures in writing.

The Work Manual

The Work Manual should include the work policies and procedures that have been prepared in accordance with employment legislation and that form part of the terms of employment for each employee.

The policies and procedures should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they comply with current legislation and regulations. It should be made clear how any changes to the manual will be notified, for example via e-mail or via the company’s Intranet.

The manual should include a statement that makes clear that the policies and procedures are not intended to be contractual commitments, that no policy is intended as a guarantee of continuity of benefits or rights and that no permanent employment or employment for any term is intended or can be implied from any statements in the Work Manual.

Consideration should be given to inclusion of the following sections.

Introduction to the Company
This section should provide an introduction to the company and its culture followed by information on the following areas where appropriate to the company’s business:

•  The Company’s history
•  Partners, Directors and Associates
•  Company Objectives/Mission
•  Sources of Technical Support
•  Organisation Chart
•  Intranet details (and the Client/Customer Extranet)
•  Statement of Growth, Profit, and Business Plan
•  Managers
•  Statement of Commitment to Employees
•  Continuity of Policies – Right to Change or Discontinue

At the end of this section there should be an acknowledgment of receipt that each employee should sign. They should then retain a copy of the manual for their records.

The Business
This section should include a description of the range of services that the company offers or the products it sells. For example, for an accountancy firm these may include audit, accountancy, taxation, business consultancy, insolvency and other services.

Employment Policies
This section should provide all policies that relate to employment. Where appropriate, employees should sign their agreement to certain policies. It should, in my view, include information on the following areas where appropriate to the company’s business:

•  Recruitment Policy
•  Recruitment of Future Directors and Employees
•  Announcement of New Positions
•  Employee Selection Process
•  Making an Employment Offer
•  Induction Procedure – New Employees
•  Employee Leaving Checklist
•  Eligibility to Work in the UK
•  Disability Discrimination Act
•  Equal Opportunity Policy
•  Rehiring of Former Employees
•  Employment of Relatives
•  Return to Work after Serious Injury or Illness
•  Lateness/Absenteeism
•  Confidentiality of the Firm’s Information
•  Conflict of Interest
•  Policy on Whistleblowing at Work
•  Medical Evaluations and Interviews
•  Disability Accommodation
•  Outside Employment
•  Sickness or Injury
•  Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
•  Gratuities to Government Employees or Officials
•  Gratuities to Customers or Suppliers
•  Inventions, Patents and Copyright
•  Competence
•  Career Development
•  Employee Feedback

Employment Status & Records
This section should provide all policies that relate to employment status. It should include information on the following areas where appropriate to the company’s business:

•  Undertaking Other Duties
•  Changes – in types and levels of employment
•  Anniversary Date (for review purposes)
•  Reinstatement – after Redundancy or after Voluntary Registration
•  Retirement Policy
•  Flexible Working Policies
•  Employment Classifications – Regular Full-Time, Regular Part-Time and Temporary Employees
•  Access to Personnel Files
•  Background Checks
•  Performance Review and Salary Merit
•  Job Descriptions and Standard Profiles
•  Equal Pay Policies
•  Provision of references to prospective new employers

Employee Benefits
This section should provide details of the policies that relate to employee benefits.

This section should provide all policies that relate to payroll.

Workplace Guidelines and Information
This section should provide all the policies that relate to the workplace.

This section should provide all policies that relate to computer and IT matters.

Dealing with Clients/Customers
This section should provide all policies that relate to client/customer contact.

Financial Procedures
This section should provide all policies that relate to financial procedures.

Administration and Sundry Matters
This section should provide all policies that relate to administration and other sundry matters.

IT Self-Analysis Questionnaire 
This section can be used by an employee to record their level of expertise in the IT software used by the company. It should include a list of the common functions the employee will need to undertake as part of their job.

Introducing new policies

If you are planning to introduce a new policy, you should consider the following:

•  What is the purpose of the policy?
•  Have you consulted with managers, workers and their representatives?
•  Has someone been given overall responsibility for the policy?
•  How are you going to communicate the policy to all workers?
•  Have you given workers enough notice about the new policy?
•  Have you thought through the potential cost of the policy?
•  Does the policy change anyone’s employment contract?
•  How are you going to monitor and maintain the policy?

Produce your own Work Manual from scratch

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel.  Find out more about having a Work Manual that you can create yourself, by visiting: or by contacting us for information.

Why Employees Deserve Proper Job Descriptions

Why Employees Deserve Proper Job Descriptions

Job Descriptions publication Someone mentioned job descriptions to me the other day. They had been approached by an employee who had said they hadn’t got a clue about what their job entailed. I said that every employee ought to have a proper job description. In fact, one of Bizezia’s business solutions is called Work Manual and it includes more than 500 professionally written templated job descriptions, all of which are fully editable.

OK, why do I think employees deserve proper job descriptions?

Most employees are legally entitled to receive a written statement that covers their main employment particulars within two months of starting a job. Part of that written statement is known as the principal statement and must include:

  • The legal name of the employer company:
  • The legal name of the employee:
  • The date the current employment began:
  • Any earlier date upon which employment with a previous employer began which is treated as “continuous” with the current employment:
  • The employee’s pay, or how it is calculated, and the intervals at which it will be paid – e.g. weekly or monthly:
  • The employee’s hours of work:
  • Entitlement to holidays – including public holidays – and holiday pay. The information must be accurate enough to allow precise calculation of accrued entitlement:
  • The address of the employee’s place of work. If they will be working in more than one place then you should indicate this along with the employer’s address: and
  • Job title or a brief description of the work.

That means that an employer can choose to just list the job title OR a brief description of the role in the written statement. Neither option properly communicates what is expected of the employee.

Preparing a job description is not a legal requirement but it is an important part of employee documentation. If expectations and requirements are not properly set at the start of employment, then problems can occur further down the line if there is a mismatch between the employee’s performance and the employer’s expectations. This is not fair on either party and can just lead to unnecessary conflict.

In fact, without a clear and realistic job description in place at the recruitment stage there’s a much greater risk of filling a vacancy with an unsuitable candidate.

Employees deserve job descriptions that clearly identify their responsibilities, the knowledge and skills they require and their position within the company’s organisation.

Why your employee needs a job description

A well written clear job description:

  • helps an employer differentiate between job applicants to recruit the right person for the job on offer
  • helps an employer address any questions from unsuccessful applicants
  • communicates a business’s company direction and values
  • sets clear expectations of what is expected from the employee
  • tells an employee (and co-workers) where they fit within an organisation
  • identifies any qualifications and experience necessary for the job
  • is flexible enough to allow the job to grow and change to suit the employee’s skills and the business’ needs
  • provides a reference against which an employee’s performance can be measured. (This is particularly important if an employee is underperforming)
  • indicates any necessary adherence to any relevant employment legislation (e.g. health and safety legislation)
Writing a Job Description

A job description should include:

  • microfying glassThe job title.
  • A summary of the general nature and objectives of the job.
  • The position in the company, including the job titles of:
    –     the person to whom the employee will report,
    –     any subordinates,
    –     any other relevant working relationships.
  • A list of the main duties or tasks of the employee. This list should contain all of the duties and tasks that are necessary for the successful performance of the job. It should make clear where the employee has overall responsibility and accountability for both their own tasks and tasks performed by their subordinates.
  • A list of the qualifications or experience required to fulfil the job’s functions split into those that are essential and those that are desirable.
  • The location of the job.
  • Equipment to be used in performing the functions of the job (include any health and safety guidance if appropriate).
  • Salary range/grade for the job.
What else does an Employee need to know?

A job description is just one of the documentary tools that helps employees understand what is expected of them and where they stand in a company.

But what about policies and procedures?

Providing your employees with an Office Manual that includes both company policies and company procedures helps both your business and your employees. It helps set employee expectations about the company’s work environment and communicate corporate standards and procedures.

Free publication

For more information on Work Manuals, please email me at and I’ll send a free copy of my publication: Why Your Company Needs a Work Manual

To Delegate or Abdicate – which is best?

To Delegate or Abdicate – which is best?

The art of delegationIn December 2012, I wrote the text for a publication called “The Art of Delegation”. Delegation is the assignment of tasks, responsibilities and authority to others while retaining overall accountability. Delegation isn’t just telling someone what to do. Your “delegates” must be able to act fully in your absence – it means letting them think and decide for themselves but it isn’t abdication if you get regular feedback on results.

Understanding Delegation

Delegation is a skill most managers have heard about but which few properly understand and apply. The main problem is that managers are slow to delegate because they fear that no one will do the job properly, or as well as they could do it themselves.

Delegation is primarily about entrusting your authority to others, enabling them to act and initiate independently and to assume responsibility with you for specific tasks – but if something goes wrong, you remain accountable since you are the manager.

The idea behind delegation is that managers can gain more time to do complex tasks yet keep an overview of the project – and as a result develop themselves and their team. The objective is to get the job done by someone else – not just the simple tasks of reading or following instructions, but also the decision-making and changes, which depend upon new information as it arises.

Delegation is one of the core concepts of management leadership. Delegation, if properly done, is not abdication.

To enable someone else to do the job for you, you must ensure that:

  • you communicate clearly so that they know exactly what you want of them
  • they have the authority to achieve it
  • they know how to do it

Delegating the wrong things

All too often managers delegate the “wrong” things.  They usually have no interest in what they delegate and thereby lose control over the process or function that they are accountable for.  If the manager is truly accountable for the outcome of other people’s activities, then obviously proper care must be taken in how, what and why activities, projects, processes, or functions are assigned or delegated to others.

In an article in HResource many years ago, the following items were listed as being tasks that could be delegated to others to make a manager’s lot easier:

  1. Matters that keep repeating themselves.
  2. Minor decisions most frequently made.
  3. Details that take the biggest chunks of time.
  4. Parts of the job that the supervisor is least qualified to handle.
  5. Job details that the superior most dislikes.
  6. Parts of the job that make the superior over-specialised.
  7. Parts of the job that make the superior under-specialised.

What should you delegate?

  • Duties that can be assigned on a temporary basis.
  • Fact-finding assignments (data collection).
  • Preparation of rough drafts (reports, policies, etc.).
  • Problem analysis and proposed possible solutions.
  • Routine, repetitive tasks.
  • Small units of work from your own job description.
  • Tasks to challenge your team and stimulate professional growth.

Common symptoms of a problem with delegation include:

  • “I can do it better”
  • “It’s quicker to do it myself”
  • “No one else has my experience or competence”
  • “I like to keep these projects for myself – I like to keep in touch”
  • “It takes too long to teach or show someone else, so it’s easier to do it myself”
  • “My desk is never clear and I frequently take work home”
  • “I’m frightened that I will lose control and someone will take on my job”
  • “I just didn’t think about delegating”

Successful delegation

There are several components to successful delegation:

  • Define the task: Confirm in your own mind that the task is suitable to be delegated.
  • Give the job to someone who can get it done: What are your reasons for delegating to this person? What are you and they going to get out of it? This doesn’t mean that person has all the skills for execution, but that they’re able to marshal the right resources. Sometimes the first step in the project will be education – training or coaching may be required.
  • Assess ability and training needs: Is the other person capable of doing the task? Do they understand what needs to be done?  If they don’t understand, then you can’t delegate.
  • Communicate and explain: The things that must be spelled out clearly are timescales, outcomes, and budget constraints etc. Anything less creates conditions for failure. You must explain the reasons why the job or responsibility is being delegated, why it’s being delegated to that person, its importance and relevance to the organisation.
  • State the required results:  What has to be achieved? Clarify understanding by getting feedback from the other person. Make sure they know how you intend to measure whether the job is being done successfully. Failing to agree on methods of checking and controlling in advance will cause your monitoring to seem like interference or lack of trust.
  • Consider resources required: Discuss and agree what’s required to get the job done. Consider factors such as people, location, premises, equipment, money, materials, and other related activities and services.
  • Agree a plan of action: Depending on the complexity of the project, the first step may be creation of a plan. The plan should include resources (see above), approach or methodology, timeline, measures and milestones. Even simple projects require a plan.
  • Set up a structure for accountability: For example, if the project is to take place over the next 12 weeks, then schedule an interim meeting in say three weeks’ time. Perhaps you should establish a weekly conference call, or an e-mailed status report. The idea is to create a means by which you can jointly evaluate progress and make corrections as required. This helps keep the project, and the people, on track.
  • Agree deadlines: When must the job be finished, when are the review dates, when are the reports due? And if the task is complex and has parts or stages, what are the priorities?
  • Support and communicate: Here you will need to think about whom else in the organisation needs to know what’s going on, and inform them. By involving the other person in considering this, they can see beyond the issue at hand.
  • Get commitment: Often, time frames are dictated by external circumstances. Still, your delegate must sign on for the task at hand. If you say, “This must be done by next Tuesday,” they have to agree that it is possible. Ask instead. “Can you have this by Tuesday?”  To you this may seem a bit remedial, but the step is often overlooked. Whenever possible, have your delegate set the timeline and create the plan. You need only provide guidance and sign off. As General Patton said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
  • Provide timely feedback: With successful delegation, it’s crucial to let the person know how they are doing, and whether they have achieved their aims. If not, you must review with them why things didn’t go to plan, and deal with the problems.

To do the above, a good manager delegates successfully when he/she:

  • Encourages participation
  • Reviews results – not methods
  • Shows trust
  • Seeks recommendations
  • Delegates credit – not blame
  • Gives support
  • Is consistent

These all depend upon communicating clearly the nature of the task, the extent of their discretion, and the sources of relevant information and knowledge. It’s also important that delegated tasks are seen as meaningful, challenging assignments and that the process of delegation isn’t another way of describing the dumping on other of unwanted or distasteful tasks.

The various stages of Delegation

Stage Nature of delegation Outcome
1 “Wait to be told”; or “Do exactly what I say” “Look into the situation for me”; “Get all the facts and report them to me. I’ll then decide what to do” The employee is new to the job or can’t be trusted fully and the supervisor wants to retain control of the outcome. Here, there is no delegation at all.
2 “Look into this and tell me what you come up with but I’ll decide”; “Identify the problem”; “Look for alternative solutions” The employee is being developed and the supervisor wants to see how he or she approaches problems and makes decisions. This asks for investigation but no recommendation is sought.
3 “Tell me your recommendation, and the other options with the pros and cons of each but I’ll let you know whether you can go ahead” This asks for analysis and recommendation, but you will check the thinking before making a decision.
4 “Examine the issues and let me know what you intend to do, but don’t go ahead until you check with me” The supervisor has confidence in the employee who is trusted to judge the relative options. No action can be taken without the supervisor’s approval.
5 “Solve the problem and let me know what you intend to do, then do it, unless I say you shouldn’t” The supervisor has respect for the employee’s ability and judgement, and only wants a final check before action is taken. Now the other person begins to control the action. The subtle increase in responsibility saves time.
6 “Take action of this matter, and let me know what you did” The supervisor has full confidence in the employee and has no need to be asked or consulted with before action is taken. He or she only wants to know the outcome.
7 “Take whatever action you think is necessary – you needn’t check back with me” The supervisor has confidence in the employee who has full authority to act and does not need to report the results back to the supervisor. This is the most freedom that we can give to another person. It’s the ultimate objective or successful delegation.

Delegation doesn’t always work

As most managers will have found out, delegation doesn’t always end up with the desired result. When delegation fails it can usually be attributed to one of three reasons. Each reason seems obvious, but all managers should examine their own process of delegation and evaluate its effectiveness. If it doesn’t seem to be working, is it due to:

  • The process is incomplete: What’s gone wrong here is that the responsibilities for results have been distributed without granting sufficient authority or creating a relationship of accountability.
  • The supervisor refuses (consciously or unconsciously) to delegate: The obstacles to delegation are never overcome by the supervisor or the subordinate.
  • Delegation is blocked by incomplete or ineffective communication: Often, the supervisor goes through the process and activities associated with delegation without the people realising that delegation had been attempted. Here, the supervisor acts and proceeds as if delegation has taken place, with the subordinate only finding out when deadlines approach. This is the most difficult reason to identify and can be eliminated by clarity at any early stage as to what is expected.

Why is Delegation different to Abdication?

GerberI’m a great fan of Michael Gerber. He is an outstanding business coach and author. I’ve met him on a couple of occasions and I’ve read most of his self-help books.

In Chapter Four of The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber provides an example of a typical business entering its adolescence and abdicating responsibilities to its first employee:  There’s a critical moment in every business when the owner hires his very first employee to do the work he doesn’t know how to do himself, or doesn’t want to do… And in a single stroke, you suddenly understand what it means to be in business in a way you never understood before. ‘I don’t have to do that anymore!’ At last you’re free. The Manager in you wakes up and the Technician temporarily goes to sleep. Your worries are over. Someone else is going to do that now. But at the same time — unaccustomed as you are to being The Manager — your new found freedom takes on an all too common form. It’s called Management by Abdication rather than by Delegation. In short, like every small business owner has done before you, you hand the books over to Harry…and run.

Abdication can lead to disastrous results. Tasks aren’t completed properly or at all, you have unhappy customers, missed deadlines, financial problems — all of which you discover well after the fact because you abdicated those tasks…and ran!

Read more on the E-Myth here.

Ken Blanchard says that there’s an important difference between delegating and abdicating. When you delegate to someone, you give them responsibility for something, but you stay in the information loop. Abdicating is when you give somebody responsibility and then you disappear and you’re not in the information loop at all. Then what happens? All of a sudden someone says, “Do you know what’s happening?” Actually, you haven’t got a clue.

If you delegate, you turn over responsibility to someone else, but you’re still in the loop so you know at what point you might need to get involved again and maybe help in some way. But not with abdication.

Delegation PocketbookSo delegate, don’t abdicate. People don’t mind you being in the information loop because then they can get your help when they need it.

Relevant Reading

Here are a few books you may be interested in that cover this subject:

1. Delegation Pocketbook, by Jon Warner (author) and Phil Hailstone (illustrator), published by Management Pocketbooks; ISBN-10: 1903776910. 6. Essential Managers: How To Delegate, by Robert Heller, Tim Hindle, published by DK Publishing Merchandise; ISBN: 0789428903.
2. Effective Delegation, by Chris Roebuck, published by AMACOM; ISBN: 081447019X. 7. Delegation, by Andrew Forrest, published by Industrial Society; ISBN: 1858359538.
3. You Can’t Do It All: Effective Delegation for Supervisors (How-To Do Book Series), by Jeanne Baer, Karen M. Miller (Editor), published by American Media Publishing; ISBN: 1884926991. 8. Making Delegation Happen, by Robert Burns, published by Business & Professional Publishing; ISBN: 1875889426.
4. Essential Delegation Skills, by Carla L. Brown, published by Gower Publishing Limited; ISBN: 0566079445. 9. Delegation Skills, by Bruce B. Tepper, published by McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing; ISBN: 0786301481.
5. How to Be Better at Delegation and Coaching, by Tony Atherton, published by Kogan Page; ISBN: 0749429445.  

Please email me if you would like to receive a copy of my publication, “The Art of Delegation”.

6 articles covering all things ‘jobs’

6 articles covering all things ‘jobs’

I found several interesting articles on employment issues. The first three cover women taking six years away from work to rear their children, BITC arguing that employees should be rewarded for responsible behaviour and the third one is about office romances and what happens when they go sour. The last three give advice on what to do before quitting your present job, the new Health and Work Service proposals to get long-term sick back to work and finally details of HMRC guidance on the Employment Allowance.

Dame Alison Carnwath calls for breaks of six years for mothers

workingmumCompanies should allow women to take up to six years off to focus on raising their families, the FTSE 100’s only woman chairman has said. In an interview with The Financial Times today, Land Securities chairman – and City A.M. awards judge – Dame Alison Carnwath said companies would find “measurable economic benefits” by holding onto their best women, and allowing them to return after rearing their children.

She said companies would benefit not only from a cost point of view but also from a “continuity of culture”.

Her comments contrast with controversial remarks made by Ukip leader Nigel Farage earlier this month, who argued that women who work in the City and have children are worth less when they come back. I can’t agree with that, sorry Nigel.

Read more here.

BITC urges leaders to reward staff for responsible behaviours

The head of charity Business in the Community (BITC) has challenged company bosses to reward their staff for responsible behaviour in the same way they incentivise them for hitting financial targets. Speaking at the Leadership Summit, BITC’s chief executive Stephen Howard urged leaders to take practical steps to encourage employees to “do the right thing”. He called on chief executives to show their staff that responsible behaviour is both valued and adds value to the organisation and urged them to consider using rewards to highlight this. He said that responsible behaviour should form a central plank of staff training and development and encouraged bosses to actively give staff experiences outside their day job to nurture their values and decision-making.

Read more here.

Workplace advice on safeguarding your office when workplace romances turn sour!

workplace romanceWe all know that love is in the air in the run up to Valentine’s Day, but with a large proportion of the UK workforce spending a significant amount of time in work, Jo Eccles, business adviser at the Forum of Private Business (FPB) suggests establishing clear policies at work can avoid any nasty fallout later. It’s a well-known fact that a large number of personal relationships are formed at work. Depending on which survey you look at, the number of people who have been involved in workplace liaisons is anywhere between 30 to 70%, and most employers will admit to coming across it at some point.

There is no law against office romances, and while you may not like it doesn’t mean you can pull the plug on it legally.

However as an employer you do have the right to expect that people you employ should behave in a professional manner at work and should bear in mind that any romantic liaisons they may have may raise issues of a conflict of interest.

Such issues can include:

  • The effect on the trust and confidence of colleagues in relation to a conflict of interest, fair treatment or their own ability to discuss issues openly with, for example their line manager.
  • The perception of the other employees, clients or customers in relation to professionalism and fairness of the business and its employees.
  • Conflicting loyalties and breaches of confidentiality.

While some organisations do introduce rules that employees in the same department must not enter into romantic relationships, many employers find the best approach is to put a policy in place, which deals with relationships in the office.

This often includes:

  • Defining a close personal relationship.
  • Requirements to disclose a personal relationship (on application forms or to the line manager to flag up any potential conflict of interest issues that may arise).
  • Changes in operating procedures that may be required as a result of the relationship, such as changes to line management supervision, shift or work patterns, conflicts of interest that may impact on perceptions or employee relations within a team.
  • What to do if is relationship breaks down.

The full FPB release is here.

Before You Quit Your Job, Do These 10 Things

In a story from the U.S., some advice on what to do when you are leaving your current job.  In his new book, Smart People Should Build Things (HarperBusiness, 2014), the “recovering lawyer” and founder of Venture for America Andrew Yang offers up his opinion on how the USA can rectify its current economic problems – have smart people build things. His book delves into an innovative model on how entrepreneurs and our youth can launch small businesses and revolutionize industries. Yang also touches on what policy makers and individuals looking for jobs should do to ensure entrepreneurship is both attainable and realistic.

Andrew Yang is the founder and CEO of Venture for America, a New York City-based non-profit organisation focused on placing top-college graduates in startups for two years in emerging U.S. cities to generate job growth and train the next generation of entrepreneurs. He is also the author of Smart People Should Build Things.

Read more, here.

New Health and Work Service to get long-term sick back to work

longtermsickPeople off sick for more than four weeks are to be offered advice to get them back to work more quickly under a scheme being set up by the government. The Health and Work Service, which will cover England, Wales and Scotland, will offer non-compulsory medical assessments and treatment plans. It will be run by the private sector and paid for by scrapping compensation to employers for statutory sick pay.

Is this another privatisation on the QT?

Ministers say employers will save money overall by having fewer staff off sick. They said it may save companies up to £70m a year in reduced sickness pay and related costs.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions minister, Kate Green, said: “Any help to cut number of days lost to sickness is welcome, but with the government’s Work Programme helping just 5% of people on sickness and disability benefits into jobs, it is clear much more needs to done to help people get back to work.”

The new scheme will not entail any change to existing laws. At present, staff who are off work for more than four weeks are considered to be long-term sick and entitled to Statutory Sick Pay of almost £90 per week from their employers. That will not change under the new arrangements – but the government wants the Health and Work Service to cut the number of people on long-term sick leave. Under the scheme, employers or GPs will be able to refer employees for a work-focused occupational health assessment.

Admittedly, it’s a big problem. About one million people in Britain are off work long-term because of illness, according to the government. The rate of absence through sickness is among the lowest in Europe and has halved over the past decade, but the Government thinks it still too many.

Read the BBC article here.

HMRC guidance on Employment Allowance

This story from, here, explains that HMRC has published detailed guidance on the Employment Allowance available from 6 April 2014 which allows eligible companies to reduce employer Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) by up to £2,000 each tax year.  The allowance, first announced in Budget 2013, can be claimed by a business or charity (including Community Amateur Sports Clubs) that pays employer Class 1 NICs on employees’ or directors’ earnings.

If the company belongs to a group of companies or the charity is part of a charities structure, only one company or charity can claim the allowance, and it can be applied to only one PAYE scheme even if the business or charity runs multiple schemes.

There are exemptions to the businesses able to claim the Employment Allowance, including employing someone for domestic or personal work; public authorities; and organisations which provide work of a public nature, such as local council refuse collection, GP services or prisons. Due to the changes, Personal Service Companies (PSC) who pay contract fees instead of a wage or salary, also may not be able to claim as it is not possible to claim the allowance for any deemed payments of employment income.

The HMRC guidance is available here.

New Acas guidance on TUPE law changes

New Acas guidance on TUPE law changes

Late last month, Acas published new guidance to help employers and HR professionals dealing with TUPE transfers understand the legal changes that have now come into effect.

TUPE formThe regulations ensure that when a business transfer occurs, employees moving across to the new employer bring with them their length of service and terms and conditions, and the regulations provide a structure for the transfer process.

The past decade has seen a rise in organisational restructuring, particularly the use of outsourcing across both the public and private sector. This looks set to continue. Last year the Acas helpline dealt with nearly 30,000 calls on the subject and our web guidance was viewed around 220,000 times

The key TUPE changes include:

  • Terms and conditions from collective agreements may be renegotiated after one year provided that overall the contract is no less favourable to the employee;
  • Dismissals are no longer automatically unfair because of a change in the workplace location;
  • Businesses with fewer than 10 employees are not required to invite the election of representatives for consultation purposes if no existing arrangements are in place; and
  • Employee liability information should be provided 28 days before the transfer, rather than 14 days as previously.

The new guide 2014 Changes to TUPE is available here.

The Fiver Challenge: pupils to start own business with a £5 loan

The Fiver Challenge: pupils to start own business with a £5 loan

five pound noteYesterday, the Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and Department for Business, Innovation & Skills reported that primary school children will be given the chance to start their own business with a £5 loan under a new scheme to encourage young entrepreneurs.

The Fiver Challenge will give thousands of pupils aged up to 11 the chance to set up their own business and learn about the world of enterprise.

20,000 children from 500 primary schools across the UK are expected to take part this year by creating products or services to sell at a profit – which they are allowed to keep – and then return the original loan to the Fiver Bank. It is run by Young Enterprise in partnership with Virgin Money and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The first round of the challenge will run in June 2014 with a national award ceremony in September for top entrepreneurs.

Those who are interested in taking part will need to register their interest at:

Is this an opportunity for accountants and lawyers to work with local schools to provide some tuition to school children?

There more on the scheme on the Young Enterprise website, here.

The scheme was announced on the same day Lord Young formally launched a review of enterprise activities in education at a visit to Lauriston Primary School in Hackney. The review will make recommendations on how to inspire more people with the entrepreneurial spirit needed to succeed in employment or enterprise. See press release here.

Business plan to prepare students for the workplace

Business plan to prepare students for the workplace

S&MmanifestoThe British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is demanding a transformation of the UK’s education system. They argue that young people are leaving school unequipped to succeed in the workplace. 

Yes, I know that we’ve had these ideas before but now the bandwagon is gathering momentum. “Although we believe that successive governments have failed our young people by not properly equipping them for their future careers, it is time to break away from the blame game,” says BCC president Nora Senior.

BCC say that:

  • The Government must use the tax system to encourage apprenticeships and the learning of foreign languages, a move which could boost exports.
  • Students should also have regular contact with employers, as part of a new programme of so-called careers education. The measures are part of a wider proposal, named the skills and employment manifesto.
  • Universities should work with Chambers of Commerce across the country to help ensure that higher education courses are relevant to future job opportunities, it says.

In a nutshell, the BCC plan includes recommendations to improve young people’s transition from education to work, boost employers’ investment in in-work training and help them to find skilled workers among the nation’s jobseekers.

You can download the BCC publication from here.

As an aside, I spotted a BIS press release yesterday about further education learners: average earnings. A BIS report presents emerging results from analysis of average earnings for Further Education learners, and guidance on the limitations on their use.


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