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SAVE THE DATE! NATIONAL AWARDS 2020 in partnership with

Gala Dinner, Glasgow Hilton, Thursday 26th November 2020 For further details contact the Awards Planning Team on Tel: 0131 625 3267 or email: awards@hrnetworkscotland.co.uk www.hrnetworkjobs.com



COVER STORY In People We Trust: Andy Moore explores the topic of trust in the workplace between employers and employees




Editor At Large: Multi-skilling. It’s a piece of cake! Right? p. 38 Neil is a freelance business journalist who has previously held senior HR positions

Founder and Publisher: Lee Turner lee@hrnetworkscotland.co.uk

Senior Associate Editor: Andy Moore editor@hrnetworkscotland.co.uk


Legal Bites: New Immigration Policy p. 22 Elaine is a partner in the employment law team at Brodies LLP

Deputy-Editor: Teresa Flannigan editor@hrnetworkscotland.co.uk



Legal Bites: Why employers must take notice of rising trends like Veganuary p. 22 Erin is a trainee employment solicitor with Law At Work

Neil Archibald editor@hrnetworkscotland.co.uk

Editor’s Assistant/Admin: Marion Robertson editor@hrnetworkscotland.co.uk


Legal Bites: Tribunal Tales – Disciplinary Investigations p. 22 Alan is head of employment law at Navigator Employment Law

Advertising/Sponsorship: Donna Turner advertising@hrnetworkscotland.co.uk



Insight: Five Lifestyle Tips To Reduce Stress p. 42 Rosie is the UK’s leading burnout coach and author of Burnout’s A B*tch!

Media Avenue Ltd and Alliance Creative Hr NETWORK now available on: LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/hrnetwork1


Insight: Supporting carers at work p. 43

Twitter: www.twitter.com/HrNETWORKNews

Jamie is the Director of Marketing at Sodexo Engage

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The views expressed in Hr NETWORK (SCOTLAND) are those of invited contributors and not necessarily those of Media Avenue Ltd. Media Avenue Ltd does not endorse any goods or services advertised, or any claims or representations made in any advertisement in Hr NETWORK (SCOTLAND) magazine and accepts no liability to any person for loss or damage suffered as a consequence of their responding to, or placing reliance upon any claim or representation made in any advertisement appearing in Hr NETWORK (SCOTLAND) magazine. Readers should make appropriate enquiries and satisfy themselves before responding to any such advertisement or placing reliance upon any such claim or representation. By so responding or placing reliance readers accept that they do so at their own risk. © Media Avenue Ltd. 2019



March 2020 of Trust in the Workplace. All too often, we see that when trust in the workplace is breached – it can cause untold damage on employee engagement and productivity levels, which can inevitably lead to serious business failure. Andy discovers however there are ways to combat the threat of distrust in the workplace and provides some good tips on following best practice. The Awards Planning Team is delighted to announce the opening of nominations for the hugely anticipated Hr NETWORK National Awards 2020. Full details for all the categories and their sponsors can be found on page 24.


elcome to the latest issue of Hr NETWORK. March is always a very important month for the Hr NETWORK team. This is when we secure all our sponsors for the year ahead including our wonderful Conference exhibitors and partners plus all our hugely supportive Awards category sponsors and we are thrilled with the commitment from our sponsors again this year. March also see’s the opening of nominations for this years Hr NETWORK National Awards 2020 in partnership with Roffey Park Institute who are not only supporting the Awards this year but are once again also committed to supporting

the Strategic Workforce Planning Conference & Exhibition in May. Nominations for this year’s Awards are now open and this is your chance to recognise, acknowledge and reward the true champions of the Scottish HR profession. The Awards Gala Dinner will take place in Glasgow on 26th November and early interest indication suggests this could be the biggest and the best Gala Dinner we have ever hosted. With this all in mind, Hr NETWORK continues to be a hugely vibrant and energetic community that values your contribution and support to the profession and if you like what we do and you enjoy all the things that Hr NETWORK offers and if you value our commitment to improving the profession – then let us know and help us provide you and your profession with even more benefits. This Issue In this issue of the magazine, Andy Moore takes a closer look the topic


Editor At Large Neil Archibald looks at the topic of multi-skilling, which isn’t as easy, as some people think. It’s certainly not a piece of cake but Neil discovers there are significant benefits if it is handled correctly. The regular sections of the magazine include: Five Fab…, Stats and The Bookshop and the ‘Insights’ section features first class comment from those in the know on a range of subjects including: I hope you enjoy your copy of Hr NETWORK Magazine and look forward to seeing you at one of the forthcoming events.

Lee Turner Publisher Contributors: Neil Archibald, Elaine McIroy, Erin Moncur, Alan Sutherland. Hr NETWORK also available on: LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/hrnetwork1 Twitter: www.twitter.com/HrNETWORKNews YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ hrnetworkscotland


UK set to introduce ‘Jack’s Law’ – new legal right to paid parental bereavement leave Parents who suffer the devastating loss of a child will be entitled to 2 weeks’ statutory leave, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced recently as she laid new regulations in Parliament. The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations, which will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned tirelessly on the issue, will implement a statutory right to a minimum of 2 weeks’ leave for all employed parents if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer.

Parents will be able to take the leave as either a single block of 2 weeks, or as 2 separate blocks of one week each taken at different times across the first year after their child’s death. This means they can match their leave to the times they need it most, which could be in the early days or over the first anniversary. Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “There can be few worse experiences in life than the loss

This is the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world, set to take effect from April.

of a child and I am proud that this government is delivering ‘Jack’s Law’, making us the first country in the world to do so. When it takes effect, Jack’s Law will be a fitting testament to the tireless efforts of Lucy Herd, alongside many charities, to give parents greater support.” Lucy Herd said: “In the immediate aftermath of a child dying, parents have to cope with their own loss, the grief of their wider family, including other children, as well as a vast amount of administrative paperwork and other arrangements. A sudden or accidental death may require a post-mortem or inquest; there is a funeral to arrange; and there are many other organisations to contact, from schools to benefit offices. I was told many times that I would not succeed but Jack’s Law will now ensure that bereaved parents are better protected in the future.”

Nearly half of Scots suffer from Sunday night fear, with one in four calling in sick because of it The latest survey from job board CV Library reveals that nearly half (46.8%) of Scottish professionals suffer from Sunday night fear. What’s more, a further 28.6% admit that they’ called in sick because they were too worried to go to work.

a negative impact on your health, mood and overall happiness; so it’s important that this doesn’t bleed into your personal life. Start by trying to leave your work at the office. If possible, take work emails off your mobile and be strict with yourself about not doing tasks outside of working hours.

The study, which surveyed 2,000 British professionals, found that two thirds (66.7%) of workers in Aberdeen suffered from Sunday night fear; more than any other city in the UK. Glasgow professionals were also seriously affected by the problem, with 45.7% stating that they dread going back to work on Monday.

Despite Scottish professionals dreading their return to work after the weekend, most actually think that Tuesday is the worst day of the working week; with only 3.2% of respondents choosing it as their favourite day.

Alongside this, 33.3% of workers in Aberdeen have called in sick because they were too worried to go into work, followed by 29.4% of professionals in Glasgow and 22.9% in Edinburgh.

Unsurprisingly, Friday emerged as Scotland’s favourite day of the working week, with 59.7% voting it number one. Alongside this, 66.1% of Scottish workers said they feel better about the week once Wednesday is done and they’re ‘over the hump’.

Lee Biggins from CV Library commented: “If you suffer from Sunday night fear on a regular basis then it’s time to change your working habits. Feeling stressed can have

Biggins continues: “If you find that you can’t complete your daily workload within your typical working hours then you need to reach out to your manager for support.”



Lancaster University will lead the three-year project, working alongside Essex University and the University of Alberta. The UK Research and Innovation/Economic and Social Research Council (UKRI/ESRC); the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC); and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) have provided funding of £987,000.

AI to help find causes of and reduce gender and ethnic bias in labour market

The researchers will work with industrial partners to understand gender and ethnic bias within human resource processes, such as hiring and professional networking. They will analyse data from across hiring and recruitment platforms and develop new tools and protocols to mitigate and address such bias.

Researchers will tackle the problem of gender and ethnic bias in recruitment and human resource management as part of a new £1m project. Responsible AI for Labour Market Equality will look at how Artificial Intelligence can lead to unintentional bias in the processes of job advertising, hiring and professional networking, which are increasingly digitalised.

This will allow companies, HR departments and recruitment agencies to tackle such issues in future recruitment.

Working parents unable to “switch off from their work during family time

an increase from 42% in 2015. More than half (55%) now enjoy flexible working hours or work from home. Millennial parents (those aged 35 or under) are leading the way, with 62% working flexibly – not only because of their childcare responsibilities but also to help manage their wellbeing and to pursue outside interests. But the number of parents working flexibly drops to just over half (51%) amongst those aged between 36 and 55, evidence that many employers are still ignoring their people’s need for fulfilled family lives.

Working parents’ ability to “switch off” from their work is being undermined by the rise of modern communications, with almost half agreeing the boundaries between home and the workplace have blurred, according to the most authoritative annual survey of working families in the UK. The 2020 Modern Families Index reveals that while over half of parents are working flexibly, badly designed jobs have left many parents struggling to cope with the competing demands of home and the workplace. The survey shows that substantial portions of the working population aren’t benefiting from work-life balance improvements – often

struggling to reconcile the pressure to “go the extra mile”, unmanageable workloads and an “always on” culture with their need for family life and good health. The Index, which surveys more than 3,000 parents from across the UK, has been published by work-life balance charity Working Families and Bright Horizons, the nursery and backup care provider, since 2012. This year’s survey coincides with the government’s plans to legislate to improve support for working families, following its commitments in December’s Queen’s Speech. The latest data reveals that half of working parents believe their employer cares about their work-life balance,


Amongst parents who do not work flexibly, more than three quarters (77%) indicated they wanted to. Almost a third (32%) reported it was “not available” where they worked. Flexibility is also linked to seniority and salary. Better paid, white collar workers appear to be getting the best deal: 71% of senior managers or directors reported working flexibly, compared to 48% of parents in junior-level roles. More than two thirds of parents earning over £50,000 reported working flexibly, compared to 42% earning £15-20,000. Using the portal, employers can identify the range of learning pathways available – from the apprenticeship family, through to Degree level and up-skilling.


Gossip in the workplace can be good for you New data from meetings technology providers Synergy has revealed that gossip in the workplace can have a positive impact on employees.

The University of Salford’s Professor Kirk Chang, Professor of Human Resource Management, has conducted fascinating research into gossip in the workplace and the impact on employee cynicism, involving 307 employees in 24 companies operating in a range of industries in Taiwan. His research found that 61% of gossip in the workplace is positive, and while the impact is not hugely significant, it could be considered beneficial. Encouraging a more open attitude towards positive workplace

gossip – i.e. water cooler/kitchen chat should not be viewed as wasting time, but as an important mechanism for facilitating interactions. It was also concluded that negative gossip causes employees to have feelings of cynicism, frustration, hopelessness and contempt towards the employer, thereby undermining management and the organisation as a whole. Cynics at work are more suspicious of the motives of their employers and believe that managers may exploit their contributions.

Stagecoach to recruit 600 extra apprentices in 2020 Stagecoach is to recruit 600 extra apprentices during 2020, the company announced recently. Britain’s biggest bus and coach operator currently employs a total of around 550 driver and engineering apprentices across its operations in England, Scotland and Wales..

& Employment, complementing Stagecoach’s high standards around safety and customer service. A total of 34 Stagecoach employees have gained their driver apprenticeship to date, with a further 100 expected to have completed the programme by the summer.

By the end of 2020, Stagecoach will employ around 1,000 driver apprentices and around 200 engineering apprentices. The huge expansion of apprenticeships will see the company more than double the number of learners employed over the next 10 months. Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths said: “Our people are fundamental to ensuring we keep communities across the country connected. We are proud to lead the bus and coach industry by investing in apprenticeships and creating 600 new learner opportunities in 2020. “Apprenticeships bring huge value to our business in terms of talent and diversity. Whether you’re a school leaver or somebody who wants a change of career, an apprenticeship programme is a great opportunity to earn while you learn and kickstart your career in the transport industry.” Stagecoach is already the industry leader in bus driver apprenticeships and the only bus and coach operator to have a programme across all of its 14 operating companies in England. The 12-month programme provides a combination of practical training and off-the-job learning. It is delivered in partnership with training supplier Interserve Learning



Industry investing in workforce health and wellbeing with 90% of companies rewarded with productivity boost With an alarming backdrop of ever-increasing skills shortages, rapid technological change and an ageing workforce, manufacturers are investing more than ever before in their employees’ health and wellbeing. Counselling, health-screening and mental health first aiders are the norm in factories across the UK with modern and flexible working opportunities sitting at the heart of British industry. This investment in people has brought with it a boost in productivity for 90% of manufacturers along with improvements in workforce relations. Manufacturing companies also saw a reduction in absenteeism alongside

a strengthening of staff retention as a return for wellbeing spend on staff. These findings are revealed in a wide-ranging report into the UK’s health & safety landscape published today by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation and Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, part of Hyperion Insurance Group, entitled report “Health, wealth and wellbeing for Manufacturers”. The last official numbers from the UK’s Office of National Statistics showed 141million days lost to sickness absence in 2018, and over 17million working days lost to mental health related conditions. Across the whole

of the UK economy, sickness absence costs companies £15billion a year. Over 60% of manufacturing companies already provide workplace adjustments including flexible working for those returning to work after a period of sickness absence, while 52% have put in place a professional Occupational Health service to support staff on their journey back to work. Wellbeing is sitting at the heart of manufacturing businesses and is increasingly seen as a core objective for companies. To that end, 85% of firms see it as their duty to encourage and promote physical and mental health wellbeing in the workplace.

Remote working is transforming the digital economy and UK businesses must adapt to keep up UK businesses are being advised to ensure they are ready to accommodate the rise of remote working – or risk being left behind. The advice follows the publication of a new essential guide to remote working, produced by utilities and communications specialist Glide, which contains new research, predictions and guidance for businesses.

alongside concerns regarding data security, while recent data suggests that 22% of current remote workers struggle to unplug after work, 19% feel lonely and 8% can’t stay motivated. The new guide aims to tackle common issues associated with remote working, by equipping business owners with the insight they need to build an efficient framework.

Between 2008 and 2018, there was a 74% increase in the number of people working from their own home, while 68% say they’d like to work flexibly “in a way that is not currently available”. Remote working has been found to boost employee wellbeing, help with recruitment and support business expansion, while 77% of workers report that flexibility at work is important to them. So, it’s no surprise that more and more business leaders are racing to incorporate the concept into their workplaces – but there are challenges to being able to facilitate remote working. Potential obstacles include the risk of workers feeling isolated, with fewer natural opportunities for collaboration,

James Warner of Glide said: “Where people once expected to travel to a place of work, clock in and stay there until eight hours later, employees are demanding more freedom. One of the biggest influencing factors has been the emergence of the digital economy. “Changes in the way we work are making it less essential for employees to be physically present at their place of work in order for their task to be completed, but evolving your business to provide this facility for employees isn’t without its challenges.”



1,000 organisations report their gender pay gap With a month or so to go until the second gender pay gap reporting deadline on 4 April 2019, 1,000 or around 10.5% of the total number of organisations expected to submit their data have done so. Analysis by paygaps.com has shown that while some organisations have taken the opportunity to comment on the progress they are making, others have chosen to meet the minimum statutory requirements.

The overall median gender pay gap currently stands at 10.4%, which is less than the final outcome of 11.8% in 2018. The median gender bonus gap is -6.4% which compares to -21.8% for 2018. Although it should be noted that many of the organisations with large gender bonus gaps are still to report. The highest number of organisations to have reported so far has been in the public sector, with 176 submissions. The highest median gender pay gap to date is in construction with 25.5%. Financial services follows in second place with 21.1%. The highest median bonus gap is in agriculture, forestry and fishing at 63%. With less than two months to go until the second reporting deadline, there will be greater scrutiny on the quality of gender pay gap reports submitted this year. While the deadline is close to the UK’s EU withdrawal date of 29

More than two thirds of musculoskeletal sufferers say their job has contributed to their condition

March, employers can expect significant interest in their reports, with employees and other stakeholders keen to understand what’s changed. Innes Miller, Chief Commercial Officer of paygaps.com said: It is important for organisations to clearly articulate how they are planning to close their gender pay gaps. Last year we saw the majority of reports explaining what the gender pay gap reporting legislation was and how if differed to equal pay. While an important part of the education and awareness process, employers this year should define what steps they are taking to improve. Most reports still lack detail on the steps being taken and how the outcomes of these steps will be measured”.

while a third (33 per cent) said their employer was aware of their condition, but had failed to provide adequate support. “These findings should encourage employers to take more effective, precautionary steps to manage the risks,” said Mike Blake, wellbeing lead at WTW. “Workplaces that promote good musculoskeletal health can play an important role in helping to alleviate the symptoms of MSK conditions and can even help prevent their onset. “MSK conditions are traditionally associated with older workers, but companies should not forget that employees across all age demographics can be susceptible, impairing their mobility and quality of life,” added Blake. “With MSK conditions the second biggest cause of employee sickness absence, and with younger workers having many occupational years ahead of them, there is a strong business case for ensuring they receive the care and support they need. “Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important, but many MSK conditions will develop over time with work-related causes including manual handling, lifting and repetitive actions such as keyboard work. Risk assessment can have a big preventative role to play here, helping identify potential problem areas and enabling employers to make practical workplace adjustments – from providing new equipment or improving office ergonomics to encouraging employees to move and stretch regularly.”

More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of musculoskeletal (MSK) sufferers say their occupation has been a contributing factor to their condition, research has revealed. According to a survey of 2,000 workers by Willis Towers Watson, a similar number (64 per cent) claim their condition has been exacerbated by their job,



Employer focus has shifted significantly to support employees’ emotional and financial wellbeing, survey reveals New research from Aon, shows that employers have increased their strategic focus on both emotional and financial wellbeing programmes, while physical wellbeing programmes have remained largely static. Aon’s UK Benefits & Trends 2020 Survey shows that 51% of employers now have financial wellbeing strategies in place, up from 21% three years ago, while 68% have emotional wellbeing strategies, up from 41%. These were the least developed pillars of employee wellbeing when Aon asked organisations in its 2017 UK Health Survey. This year’s survey also shows that 71% percent of employers either agree or strongly agree that they have a responsibility to influence employee health and change behaviours. They also have specific strategies to address particular health conditions, with 57% having a strategy for mental health, 19% for cancer and 13% for heart and cardio, while 24% have a strategy for musculoskeletal conditions. A significant 62% of respondents also believe employee financial wellbeing is their responsibility, with 48% of companies planning to implement initiatives in the next year, predominantly focusing on seminars (78%) and communications (77%). Mark Witte, principal at Aon, said: “There are many health, social, and economic factors impacting employers’ decisions to strategically support staff wellbeing. “By some margin, employers’ strategies are principally focusing on mental health, which is most likely testament to the surge of interest in the issue as well as an increased understanding of the impact on business performance. However, the low number of employers with defined strategies for other health conditions seems at odds given their prevalence and impact.”

New CIPD report shows that a quarter of employees think that bullying and harassment at work are swept under the carpet The CIPD has just published a new report, ‘Managing conflict in the modern workplace’ together with supporting guidance ‘Dealing with conflict at work: A guide for people managers’. The report found that despite the impact of the Me Too movement, a quarter of employees (24%) think challenging issues like bulling and harassment are swept under the carpet in their organisation. The report is based on two large scale surveys, one of employers and one of employees, which shows that 15% of workers have experienced bullying in the last three years, while 4% say they’ve been sexually harassed at work and 8% have experienced other forms of harassment. The report also highlights the critical importance of line management in both causing and preventing bullying and harassment, with four in 10 (40%) of those who’ve been bullied or harassed saying that their manager was responsible, and a third (34%) of employers saying that one of the top barriers to effective conflict management is that managers don’t have the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour. The CIPD is calling on organisations to train managers to be more effective at managing conflict at work. The new supporting guide will help mangers do this.



Careers one of the top causes of stress among young people Women are more stressed than men

According to a study by UK Youth, young adults spend more than six hours a day stressed out, but 1 in 10 feel they have no one to discuss their concerns with.

According to a recent wellbeing survey, 79% of UK women are stressed compared to two thirds of men, with 10% admitting their stress is ‘unmanageable’. Of the two sexes, women are more likely to stress about finances, as the gender pay gap causes women to retire on pensions that are a fraction of men’s.

Today’s adults are concerned by a culmination of factors spanning from social-life and education to finances and work-life. Unsurprisingly research reveals that the most stressed age group is those falling into the “university age” bracket of 18-24-year olds. However, while millennials have been dubbed the “burnout generation”, 18-35-yearolds are most likely to be concerned about money and work. Fresh Student Living has delved into the factors causing stress among young people, including the most stressful careers.

six months of graduating. To add to this, Perkbox revealed that work is the most common cause of stress, with over half of adults (59%) experiencing this, while two-thirds have sleepless nights because of it.

• Work/Careers

A survey on stress levels across the UK revealed the top 10 stressful professions, which would mean the most anxious student’s would face further challenges around mental health going forward:

• Academic pressure

1. HR: 79%

• Uncertainty about the future

2. Legal: 63%

• Loneliness

3. Retail, Catering & Leisure: 54%

• Social media

4. IT & Telecoms: 53%

• Finances

5. Healthcare: 52%

Top Causes of Stress Among Young People

The Most Stressful Professions

6. Education: 51% 7. Sales, Media & Marketing: 48%

Once entering the world of work, graduates who can finally enjoy freedom outside of academic studies are faced with a secondary layer of difficulty – finding a job.

8. Architecture, Engineering & Building: 47%

YouGov revealed 81% of students feel pressure to find a job within

10. Arts & Culture: 44%

9. Finance: 46%


Money remains a crucial factor causing worry 25-34 year olds cite money as the leading cause of stress, however research reveals that 1 in 5 adults are drowning in debt, while searches or ‘how to get out of debt’ has increased by 80%. In today’s Briton, 77% of people are stressed about money, while almost three-quarters have been so stressed they’ve felt overwhelmed and unable to cope.

Combatting Stress and Focusing on Mental Health Poor mental health leads to burnout, fatigue, and can also result in irregular moods, feelings of anxiety and reduced focus; eventually taking its toll on relationships and physical health as well. While people turn to short term methods of coping, such as taking a day to rest and recharge, a more sustainable and healthy strategy can help deal with long-term effects. Exercising, focusing on the present and talking about how you’re feeling, are all just a few ways to help with the effects of anxiety and concern. However, there is still a stigma around mental health that employees need to address. Offering flexible working solutions and encouraging the conversation on mental health can help encourage employees to open up when they need a mental health day.



By Elaine McIlroy, Brodies LLP

Following months of speculation, the UK Government finally announced in February, the detail of its new immigration policy that will come into place on 1st January 2021. The proposals will be a concern for employers that recruit low skilled staff as the Government has confirmed that they will not introduce a general low skilled worker route. But for employers who need to recruit from outside the UK for medium and highly skilled jobs, the outlook is more positive.

There is some further good news for employers as the sponsorship process is likely to become faster and more streamlined. This will be in part due to the abolition of the resident labour market test and the immigration cap. However, the costs of sponsorship will remain prohibitive for some employers and individuals – especially where the costs of sponsorship are disproportionate to the salary being paid for the job. Visa fees, the immigration skills charge and other costs (such as the Immigration health surcharge) can amount to several thousand pounds. The immigration health surcharge alone will be £12,500 for a family of 4 coming to the UK for a 5-year period (whereas under freedom of movement rules none of those costs had to be paid). That may well have an influence on whether the UK will remain an attractive destination for new recruits.

The new rules will broaden the category of employees who can be sponsored once freedom of movement comes to an end at the end of the Brexit transition period. The new rules will allow employers to sponsor medium and highly skilled jobs which are paid at or above a minimum salary threshold (whereas currently only highly skilled jobs are eligible). The minimum salary level under the new rules will generally be £25,600 (although a higher going rate will apply to certain jobs). There will be some circumstances in which a lower salary can be paid – for example if a job applicant has a PhD or if their job is on the shortage occupation list. Those familiar with the current rules would be advised to get up to speed with the changes and for those without a sponsor licence, it would be sensible to apply for one now.

Another piece of good news is the proposal to introduce an unsponsored immigration category for the most highly skilled workers who will not need a job offer to come to the UK. The proposals for that immigration route are still being formulated but will give employers another option to consider in the future.


By Alan Sutherland, Navigator Employment Law Most employers will be aware that in order not to fall foul of unfair dismissal law they should investigate all disciplinary allegations properly before proceeding to dismiss. However a recent case has considered whether a separate investigation meeting is a right in itself.

to be a separate investigation meeting. But, said the Appeal Tribunal, the Employment Tribunal hadn’t found that procedural failure was the only reason for finding the dismissal unfair. The Employment Tribunal had correctly concluded that on the facts of the case there had been a lack of proper investigation overall and a lack of opportunity to prepare for a disciplinary hearing which rendered the dismissal procedurally unfair.

The facts of the case involved a hotel night porter who was dismissed after being found asleep while on duty. The employer’s investigation consisted of reviewing CCTV footage, and having done so it proceeded to invite the employee to what it called an investigation meeting. Except it wasn’t really, and the employee was dismissed at that meeting.

This case is a useful reminder that for the purposes of unfair dismissal law, an employer should carry out as much investigation into the matter as is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case. Some cases will be reasonably cut and dried, requiring a relatively basic investigation; more complex cases will require a deeper investigation. Either way however, there is no absolute requirement to hold a separate investigation meeting with the accused employee. Though do check your employee handbook in case it says otherwise!

Adjudging the employee’s claim of unfair dismissal, the Employment Tribunal was critical of the fact the employer failed to hold separate investigation meetings and disciplinary hearings. It viewed that as a serious procedural failure, which rendered the dismissal unfair. However the Appeal Tribunal did not agree. In its opinion, there was no standalone requirement for there


NATIONAL AWARDS 2020 in partnership with








SAVE THE DATE! NATIONAL AWARDS 2020 in partnership with

Gala Dinner, Glasgow Hilton, Thursday 26th November 2020 For further details contact the Awards Planning Team on Tel: 0131 625 3267 or email: awards@hrnetworkscotland.co.uk www.hrnetworkjobs.com




he programme has wannabes pitting themselves against one another under stressful conditions to see who comes out as the ‘star baker’. To bake a cake or a perfectly rounded scone to come out of the oven edible, the right colour and texture may seem easy, if you know what you are doing.

Johnston Carmichael, Scotland’s largest independent firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers has a People Experience team working to re-engineer themselves to provide generalist and specialist HR services to over 800 colleagues. The company’s Chief People Officer, Sarah Sher took on her role a little over a year ago and concluded that some members of her team were wearing too many hats. She explains: “While it would be great to have everyone cross-skilled to provide the full range of people related services, it is vital to ensure there are also specialists who can provide tailored rather than generalist support.”

However, analyse the skills needed to accomplish such a task and it might cause those responsible for training the bakers of the land to reach for their training manuals!

While Sher’s team cover the generic span of HR activities with a multi-skilled team of professionals, she is also developing the skills of various specialists. This is tangibly linked to the nuances of working in a traditional but evolving, forward thinking professional services organisation.

So how does being able to create a range of tasty products from a recipe of ingredients in a competitive environment relate to the workplace?

She adds: “To support the changing focus of the organisation, the skills of the People Experience team needed to be realigned as well as providing specialist, technical support to ongoing activities such as that involving the attraction of new talent to the organisation but operating within a very tight marketplace.”

Apply the concept of multi-skilling to, for instance, an HR professional chairing a disciplinary meeting. Paying heed to organisational policy, ensuring employment law requirements are adhered to, making everyone aware of their roles and responsibilities, note-taking, pastoral care provision, if needed as well as looking after all the various other contingent parts of such an exercise.

Undertaking activities focusing on employees’ skills levels can have unintended but positive consequences such as when the structure of a team or department has to change to accommodate, for example, someone moving from a standalone, technical role to a more generalist role managing staff.

It quickly becomes apparent just how many skills those in today’s workplace, not just in HR, need in order to get the job done.

Certain specialisms may mean that a slice of the workforce either don’t need to be or don’t want to be skilled in multiple disciplines, allowing for a variety of career paths. Similarly, as technology brings changes to future skills requirements, Sher adds “we want people to grow in a way that makes the most of their strengths and allows us to harness not only the vast technical or sectorial expertise but also the human skills – judgement, communication, interpersonal – that add most value to our clients”. Sher and her team work for a traditional organisation that operates in a highly regulated and competitive marketplace with a large proportion of the workforce’s time being chargeable and therefore important for the bottom line. In order to ensure people development activities take account of these aspects, a carefully crafted strategy has been developed to ensure teams across the business are properly skilled. Sher said: “It is vital to ensure that colleagues are adequately trained to do their jobs and that they are provided with effective support at all stages. This includes looking



these are developed as much as is required and possible but also taking account of individual’s additional responsibilities such as if they are mentoring trainees or managing others.

While it would be great to have everyone cross-skilled to provide the full range of people related services, it is vital to ensure there are also specialists who can provide tailored rather than generalist support

“Whether someone is currently in or are promoted into a role which involves people management responsibilities, they are offered support either on a 1:1 basis or as part of an established development programme”, Sher said, underpinning her strategy to develop the skills of people who are called upon to be multi-skilled. The firm have staff across 13 offices which provides Sher with further challenges. Their locations as well as the nature of the clients’ businesses they advise often dictate the skills needed of staff. “In such instances”, comments Sher, “consistency of approach can be difficult to achieve when, for example, the skills needed of one administrator in an office doing a broadly similar job to another might need to be different so we have to adjust our approach given these regional variations.”

at their current skills base and to determine what is needed to take them and the organisation forward.” In terms of developing relevant interventions, this has meant, amongst other things, being cognisant of statistics such as staff promotions taking place twice annually, having 130 employees as people managers across the organisation as well as having to support and deal with the impact of approximately 25% of the workforce undergoing professional studies at any one time.

Such constraints can make it problematic in ensuring people have the necessary skills or don’t develop them adequately if they are pulled from pillar to post without properly understanding what core skills are needed related to the job they are doing.

One important ingredient for Sher’s L&D strategy has been to ensure that where specialisms exist in the organisation and which are critical to its success,

However, get that multi-skilling recipe right and workers may just rise to the occasion to earn their crust.





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Hr Network Volume 15 Issue 4  

Hr Network Volume 15 Issue 4  

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