Blacksmith meet cute

I met a blacksmith at a Christmas party the other day.

Not the usual meet cute, I grant you.

His name was Tom, and he’s not just any old blacksmith – he makes customised armour for battle re-enactments.

I’d assumed the armour used for such purposes was plastic, but no, it’s actual armour, manufactured from steel, and making it and selling it is quite the endeavour.

It takes 2-3 months to prepare most orders (with their biggest order taking 18 months to complete).

There’s more demand than supply in the UK, so they get plenty of work, but I wondered whether there might be competition from overseas.

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Is GDPR the death of email marketing?

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll be familiar with the trends coming round and round again. And often in small business marketing, with marketers trying to sell new initiatives all the time, methods die and then rise from the ashes like a phoenix, only to be pronounced dead again when the marketer … Read more

Do I have to give employees redundancy pay?

Yes! If you employ anyone, be it a receptionist, sales person or nanny means that you have responsibilities under employment law. As is usual in law, ignorance is not a defence and will not protect you! You don’t need to pay redundancy to staff who have worked less than two years for you. You will … Read more

Can I make them work their notice?

Short answer to this is no (sorry, know you didn’t want to hear that!). They may have stormed out after a row. They may have calmly handed in their notice once their pay was on their bank account. But as far as they’re concerned, it’s over. You could try and get them to stay with … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Consultant – Day 26: Christmas Decorations are religious discrimination!

Are Christmas decorations religious discrimination? No! Don’t worry, it’s not political correctness gone mad! Religious belief is protected by the Equality Act 2010. It doesn’t stop the display of Christmas decorations in the workplace. In fact, it doesn’t stop any traditional customs under religious discrimination. In any case, the vast majority of Christmas decorations, e.g. … Read more

Tales of an HR Consultancy Expert – Day 25: Check the DBS number!

When you employ a new person, it is important to check references. All you are looking for is confirmation that they really did work for that company as stated on their CV. More than that is unrealistic to expect nowadays. But what else do you need to have? In addition to the usual references, sometimes … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 24: Professional negligence?!

Professional negligence?! I do tribunal audits on employment contracts and handbooks so that the company knows what needs to be updated, how much risk they are at, and whether the documents are really “fit for purpose”. Once they have that knowledge, they can make an informed decision about whether they will be updating their paperwork … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 22: Employment tribunals

Big change! From 29 July 2013 disgruntled employees had to pay fees to start a tribunal claim. The minimum fee is £160 for a Type A case (e.g. unlawful deductions from earnings, i.e. you haven’t paid them what they are owed; unfair dismissal). Individuals can pay as much as £950 if they take a Type … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 21: Another happy client!

KCC Basildon is a Korean-owned manufacturer of silicone compounds, antifoams and emulsions. I started working with them on my HR Navigator package. Their line managers were good on the soft skills of managing, but unsure on the details of employment law. So we spent the next 12 months tightening up on exactly how to deal … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 20: Overtime doesn’t earn holiday!

Overtime doesn’t count towards holiday entitlement – or does it? The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decided on 4 November 2014 that any overtime worked does count towards an employee’s holiday entitlement. Yikes! What does that actually mean? It means that if you have in their contracts that they work 20 hours a week, and they … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 18: Not ugly enough!

Not ugly enough! Conventional wisdom says attractive people are more likely to be hired. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Two Israeli researchers send out CVs with pictures – rated according to attractiveness – for 2,500 different jobs. They found that handsome men were marginally more likely to get an interview, but that … Read more

Disciplinaries and solicitors

When can they bring a solicitor to a disciplinary meeting? When the consequences of them being dismissed would mean that they could never work in their profession again. Ever. The best example of this is a real case where a secondary school teacher was being investigated for inappropriate behavior with a pupil. If the teacher … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 14: Minimum Wage

Doing employees a favour doesn’t always work I was approached by a company to help with a situation that was baffling them. They had employed someone who wasn’t really as experienced as they would have liked, but they liked him and created a job for him. However what they also did was pay him less … Read more

Verbal warnings

When can you give verbal warnings to an employee?

Never! Verbal warnings were abolished in 2009.

At a recent talk I was asked “but can’t we keep using them, if they are part of our policies and procedures?”.

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Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 11: Discrimination costs!

How much would you have to pay if you lost a discrimination case at tribunal – what is it capped at? Bad news – it is unlimited! Which is why all those female city bankers can claim millions of pounds in compensation. What irritates me more is when the NHS, who should know better, do … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 9: Avoiding expensive mistakes

So. You’re a small business with just a few employees, and managing them is one job you have to do yourself. And do it well. Learn from the costly traps that other employers have fallen into, with this free guide on the pitfalls you simply must avoid. Remember these are the seven biggest mistakes that … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 8: Autobankruptcy!

Auto-enrolment? No! Auto-bankruptcy! The Government is really serious about auto-enrolment happening and you can tell because they are willing to make companies go bankrupt rather than avoid doing it! Well okay, that isn’t their stated intention, but look at the fines for not doing it. If you thought H&S fines of £20K for infringements were … Read more

Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 7: He’s pregnant?!

Right to time off for antenatal appointments Under the new shared parental leave it is proposed to allow the husband, civil partner or partner of the pregnant women the right to unpaid time off to attend up to 2 ante-natal appointments. Action: don’t laugh when a man asks for time to go to an antenatal … Read more

Tales of an HR Services expert – Day 2: Recruitment

Don’t do this! Recruit someone you find attractive (apparently most of us do!) Accept their word that they can do something – test them Reject them giving one of the protected characteristics as a reason (unlimited £££ tribunal claim)

The importance of being formal

Many employers don’t like to have formal meetings, i.e. in private, with closed doors, with staff who are not performing. They feel that an informal comment at their desk or the coffee machine will be enough for the person to understand the feedback and act on it. But as this incident that we had to … Read more

The show must go on!

I have had a great summer. It seems like the kids have been off for months! And one of the reasons that it has really felt like a holiday for me is that I have been to London to the theatre four times in the past 4 weeks! That might not seem much to you, … Read more

Invasion of the Identity Snatchers

What, an invasion? Well, not that bad, but it is an area that employers need to protect themselves. From what? Identity fraud and unwittingly employing illegal workers. In Terminator they used dogs to sniff out the “intruders”, the robots. We need to use a much more banal way – seeing their photo ID! This might … Read more

Flexible working even more flexible!

Sometime this year, employers worst fears will be realised: EVERY employee will be able to request flexible working!

This is a change which was supposed to come into effect from April 2014, but somewhat strangely ACAS had not got the guidance finished on it in time, so the introduction of this new right has been delayed.

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My employee resigned, didn’t she?!

This case was frustrating because my client had really bent over backwards to help, and it had backfired badly. The employee had resigned, and then said that as she was intending to move up north, and things hadn’t been finalised, could she stay on till the end of term (this was in a preschool). My … Read more

£4000 fisticuffs!

I went on a conflict management workshop recently. Which you might think is a bit strange, considering that a lot of my business comes from when conflict doesn’t get resolved. But believe me, I would have enough to do without sorting out playground fights! That became clear when Marc went through the amount of time … Read more

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