Hide and Seek

“Hide and seek the general manager” – can’t see it usurping the traditional form of the game, but nevertheless, we have plenty of fun playing it in the Gap HR office.

Here’s how it works:

  1. We hear from a client that they are moving. So far, so straightforward.
  2. Obviously, we hope to continue the relationship with that client, but it also presents an opportunity – who has just left, and where are they going?
  3. The search begins. We look on the new website. LinkedIn. The out-of-office messages from our weekly emails.

Sounds easy, and it should be.

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Cowardy custard?

We’ve had two new clients sign up on retainer this week, both with really meaty staff issues; the kind we really like to get our teeth into.

There’s something else they have in common – both were already paying retainers to other HR companies when they approached us and asked us to help them with their HR.

And as it turned out, it would have been just as effective for them to set the money on fire as it was to send it to the HR companies in question.

Because when tricky staff issues come along, the pretenders get found out.

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The most failed question

We’re recruiting at the moment – a steady stream of new clients over the last few months means we need to grow our team.

Our recruitment process is pretty hardcore: after all, the person we hire will be giving advice to our clients, which means it’s got to be spot on.

As part of the process, we ask a lot of HR questions, and there’s one question that candidates keep failing – when they do, it’s a pretty big red flag.

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Disciplinary Procedure

As an employer, one of your most important responsibilities is establishing and adhering to a clear disciplinary procedure. Disciplinary procedures not only ensure that you address any issues relating to an employee’s capability or conduct fairly and consistently, but also significantly mitigate the risk of you facing an unfair dismissal claim. Here, our HR experts … Read more

Disciplinary Procedures In The Workplace

Clear disciplinary procedures in the workplace are integral to the fair treatment of your staff. They provide a clear structure for dealing with issues arising from an employee’s performance or competence and ensure that all employees are treated consistently in similar circumstances. Employers must implement and adhere to clear disciplinary processes, and a failure to … Read more

Disciplinary Hearing

Before taking any formal disciplinary action against an employee, it’s crucial to follow a fair disciplinary process. A disciplinary hearing is a key element of this process. You must conduct the disciplinary hearing properly and in line with the relevant legal requirements. This ensures your employee fully understands the nature of your concerns and is … Read more

Does An Employer Have To Disclose A Disciplinary In A Reference UK?

Except in specific industries, an employer has no legal obligation to provide a reference to employees leaving their employment; the choice of whether or not to do so is yours to make. If you agree to give a reference, the information you provide must be fair and accurate. This often leads to businesses asking the … Read more

What Is A Disciplinary Hearing?

Dealing with employees’ misconduct and poor performance is a common challenge for employers. Issues such as persistent lateness, subordination, or ongoing failures to meet targets may cause you to consider taking disciplinary action against an employee. However, it’s crucial to remember that proceeding with disciplinary action without first following a fair process may leave you … Read more

Do I have to ask before I pat a woman’s bottom?

I’ll be blunt: we have seen a large increase in sexual harassment in golf clubs in recent months.

Not between employees.  For the most part, they abide by the rules, and when there is an incident, it’s dealt with quickly, effectively and by the book.

So, what’s the problem?

In a word: the members.

I won’t teach you to suck eggs, but we both know that – for the most part – golf club membership is dominated by white males, from a previous generation.

Chances are you’ve had to deal with your fair share of challenges from this demographic – I’ve had plenty of managers tell me about members who felt they owned the club and had the right to be involved in all decisions, despite not stepping up to take any responsibility.

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Talk to your staff!

How about this one.

The scammers targeted a new employee, let’s call her Sarah, less than two weeks in the company.

They sent them an email, allegedly from the managing director, asking Sarah to buy some John Lewis and Apple gift cards to be used as gifts for valued employees. The email asked her to keep it confidential so as not to spoil the surprise for those employees.

As the employee was so new, she somehow did not question why the MD was speaking to her, rather than literally ANYONE else in the office to do this important task. Despite the email address and language of the emails not being at all what the MD would use, because Sarah was so new, she didn’t realise.

They asked her to buy £2000 of gift cards at £500 each. She, and this is so sad, said that she only had £200 in her account, and apologised to the MD/scammers that she could only buy this much.

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How To Prepare For A Disciplinary Hearing As An Employer

Disciplinary issues are a thorny area for employers. Regardless of the situation and the strength of your position, failing to follow a fair and lawful process can result in you facing an unfair dismissal claim. The disciplinary hearing is a key aspect of the disciplinary process. Before you can impose any sanctions on the employee … Read more

Disciplinary Meeting Tips For Employer

Disciplinary meetings are a crucial part of any fair disciplinary process. The meeting is your employee’s opportunity to hear the case against them and your chance to get their side of the story. You must ensure that any disciplinary meeting you arrange is conducted properly and in line with the relevant guidelines. If you don’t, … Read more

How Long Should An Employer Keep Disciplinary Records?

Employers are subject to strict rules regarding both disciplinary processes and record keeping. Navigating the various laws, regulations, and guidelines can be incredibly complex and full of traps for the unwary. Here, our HR experts answer the regularly asked question, ‘How long should an employer keep disciplinary records?’, explain the relevant law, and give tips … Read more

Employer Disciplinary Procedures

Employer disciplinary procedures set out how the employer will deal with an employee’s misconduct or poor performance. Employers must put fair, transparent policies in place and follow those policies in all cases. If they don’t, they may face an unfair dismissal claim. Here, our HR specialists explain why it’s essential to follow fair procedures when … Read more

Employer Disciplinary Action

Employer disciplinary action is an integral part of running an organisation and managing staff. An employer has a legal duty to ensure that any disciplinary action is not only lawful, but fair. You must follow careful processes to avoid facing an unfair dismissal claim from an employee whose disciplinary action leads to dismissal. Here, our … Read more

Fag packet step-up.

A client emailed this week, wanting to issue a final written warning for the chef at his club.

He’d been drunk at work twice now, and they’d had enough.

On the face of it, that all seems sensible – it’s clearly a disciplinary offence; potentially a dismissal.

There was one teeny little snag, though: this was the first time we’d heard about any sort of disciplinary process for this member of staff.

And generally, this means one thing: it hasn’t been carried out correctly.

So it proved, when I started asking general questions – how long had the chef been there for, could they send over the investigation notes, what did the previous warnings say, and so on.

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My osmosis failure

We learnt plenty about osmosis during “O” level biology; trouble was that by the time it came to the exams, I’d forgotten it all.

Perhaps I thought the process of osmosis would bail me out – just sleep with the textbook under the pillow, and my brain would be magically instilled with everything I needed to know.

Fanciful and bizarre, maybe, but I’ve noticed a similar approach being adopted by plenty of employers, with one recent story springing to mind.

A client got in touch about an employee being off sick.

They’d not followed the absence reporting procedure, so there was a chance they could be dismissed, which was the employer’s preferred outcome.

I just needed to check one tiny little thing – that the handbook containing the absence reporting procedure HAD been given out to all staff.

The answer wasn’t reassuring:

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It IS a word!!!

Words are important. Any serious Scrabble player reaching for the dictionary will tell you that.

And when it comes to employment law, your choice of words couldn’t be more important.

I experienced this recently when a golf club committee member got in touch.

A member of staff at the club had submitted a grievance against the manager, and we’d worked on the response, which was a robust rejection of the grievance claims.

He’d agreed that we should (and must) reject the grievance, but he didn’t like the way the response was worded – too formal, too unemotional.

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The Polar plunge

Of all the things I expected to spot in Antarctica, ice swimmers were not one of them.

But I’ve just returned from ticking pretty much my number one item off the list, and there they were, among the penguins, orcas and icebergs.

They weren’t wild, you understand. As it turns out, there’s a global organisation that organises cold water swims, and several of them were on board the ship with a 1km swim planned.

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Telephone no longer answered

I was trying to get hold of a potential client this week, as he had said that they would discuss HR support at the board meeting end of last week.

I rang his mobile – went to voicemail. Fair enough, might not be answering because he’s in a meeting.

I went through the telephone system options – chose his extension – went to voicemail (American female voice, not even his)

I rang again and chose “sales” – went to voicemail, again the American female voice, no personalisation for the business.

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Employment law changes due in 2024

The government has decided to make a lot of employment law changes this year, so please make sure you are aware of them!

From 1 April 2024:

National minimum wage

The new hourly rates, applicable from 1 April 2024, are as follows:

National living wage (21yrs + ): £11.44 per hour (from £10.42)
18- to 20-year-olds’ rate: £8.60 per hour (from £7.49)
16- to 17-year-olds’ rate: £6.40 per hour (from £5.28)
Apprentice rate: £6.40 per hour (from £5.28)

Rolled-up holiday pay for part-year workers and irregular-hours workers

For those of you that have been around long enough, it will feel like déjà vu. Back before October 2019, we were allowed to pay out zero hours/casual and part year workers their holiday every month. The way we did that was by multiplying the hours worked that month by 12.07% to get the holiday hours to be paid at their normal rate of pay. For leave years from 1 April 2024, we will have gone in a huge circle, and you can now legally go back to using 12.07%.

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How to write an ignorable job ad

I was scrolling through job ads on LinkedIn the other day.

No, I’m not “looking for a new role”.  Perfectly happy where I am, thank you!

Instead, I was checking out an advert one of our clients put up, to advertise their new position of mechanic.

And my word it was dull.

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I save the day (AGAIN)

I’m ticking a seriously big item off my bucket list next week – Antarctica via Buenos Aires; two continents in one fell swoop, and hopefully a (safe) encounter with some killer whales!

As a small business owner, I don’t go anywhere without my laptop, even Antarctica.

I always do my best not to turn it on though, and over the years, I’ve become more and more successful at achieving that aim.

I won’t have much of a choice next week though – during the nine-day Antarctica cruise, there’s NO access to data or WiFi.

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How To Dismiss An Employee For Poor Performance

We get it – managing a team comes with its fair share of challenges. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, an employee may not be meeting the performance standards you’ve set. But can you just fire them? Don’t worry, because we’re here to tell you how you can dismiss an employee for poor performance, all while … Read more

How To Dismiss An Employee Fairly: A Guide for UK Business Owners

Introduction Let’s face it – dismissing an employee fairly is never a walk in the park. But as a business owner, it’s crucial to handle the situation fairly and within the bounds of UK employment law. While the process may seem daunting, breaking it down into manageable steps can make it a bit less overwhelming. … Read more

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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1 Month Notice Period UK

Does a 1 month notice period still apply after 8 years?  No, is the quick answer to that. In the first month of employment, notice can be immediate on both sides. Their notice period After the first month, it has to increase to one week on both sides. You can keep the notice period at … Read more

Easter bank holidays 2024 – action required

Some of you need to start thinking about the Easter bank holidays! Keep reading if your holiday year runs from 1 April to 31 March AND you only give the statutory minimum annual leave entitlement (20 days + bank holidays). In 2024, the Easter bank holidays fall on 29 March and 1 April 2024. So, … Read more

The magical 2-year line

The magical 2 year line

Unsurprisingly, we’re still SUPER busy here at Gap HR.

It’s usually when we’re in the middle of discussing staff member issues and that “they need to go”, that the manager pipes up with something along the lines of:

“I don’t need this person anymore. They aren’t performing, their attitude is bad, and frankly, they have been trouble since their first day of employment. Let’s get rid of them now!”.

“How long have they worked for you?”

“2 years and 2 months”

Laying aside the fact that part of a manager’s job is to “manage” poor performance, the most irritating part of this statement is the fact that despite believing that their employee “needs to go”, they’ve allowed them to drag their employment on over the magical 2-year line.

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Must be true

Must be true

A haulage company owner got in touch this week.

I’d say he was calling for advice, but actually, he just wanted the green light on his plans!

He had an employee with three years of service, and he wanted to get rid.

And because “it says it on the internet”, he believed that as he’d never given him an employment contract, he could just give him his marching orders.

I must admit to being a little taken aback by this, which may explain my blunt response:

“No, it does not say that on the internet”.

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Braving the bauble

Braving the bauble

Sure, ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’, but in 2023, the festive season now seems beset with danger, with plenty of employers concerned about the repercussions of celebrating Christmas in any way, shape or form.

So if you’re wondering whether you can brave the bauble, here’s the common-sense guide to decking the halls without ending up in tribunal.

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Burning business health

Burning business health

I look forward to Christmas every year.

For all the normal reasons, but also because of a massive indulgence I allow myself.

Before the children graced me with their presence (!), I could go out and buy pretty stuff, for me, for the house, and occasionally for others.

And it was in that period that I discovered Crabtree & Evelyn’s Noël range.

Which smells exactly like Christmas.  It’s perfection.

Since that moment several years ago, I’ve been as loyal as possible, buying products from the range when I could, and in recent years, I’ve taken to splashing out on candles to burn throughout the entire month of December.

And this year’s been another good one for the business, so I was looking forward to my usual ‘splashing out’ celebration.

Sadly, I was disappointed.

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Flabbergasted by Formula 1

Flabbergasted by Formula 1

I’m no Formula 1 super fan – I was dragged to the Dutch Grand Prix a couple of times as a child, and my only abiding memories?

  • The cars – too loud
  • Free cigarettes being handed out in the pit lane; those were the days!

Despite my lack of fandom, I sat down to watch some GP highlights earlier this week.


My daughter is doing ‘Formula Student’ this year at university, where she’s tasked with designing and building a single-seat racing car, and she wanted to get some tips, so I tagged along on the sofa.

I was immediately blown away.

Not by the cars.  Or the graphics.  Or the colours, noise, cheers from the crowd, or anything like that.

The thing that bowled me over?

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Sky Man, Will

Sky Man Will

A year ago, I finally got the dining room sorted.

It had been in my sights for a while, but there were all sorts of other things that needed time and attention first.

Eventually, though, it was the dining room’s turn, and the decorator came over to transform it.

One thing that was definitely on the list was getting rid of as many ugly cables as possible – Sky box, TV, sound system, they all add up.

During the process, a white TV cable with a connector at the end came apart.

Bizarrely, the TV still worked without it – BBC, ITV, and C4 were all there, meaning the white cable was superfluous, a hangover from the original installation.

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Carry them for 3 months?

Carry them for 3 months?

We started working with a new client this week – a private sector company with nine employees.

They had an employee that’d been there a year who just wasn’t performing despite being spoken to, offered training and so on and so forth.

We asked the critical questions, checked that the employee had no protected characteristics, and then let them know they could dismiss them.

Turns out we weren’t the only HR provider they’d spoken to about this issue.

They were in contract with Bright HR (a budget online HR service with an advice line attached), and they’d given them very different advice:

3-month performance review, and then make a decision.

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Feeling strangely fine

Feeling strangely fine Don’t worry, I’m not going to launch into a song from the 90s band Semisonic (remember them?!). Instead, I’ve got something far less exciting (but no less excruciating) to share with you: What you can and can’t do regarding Covid. We’ve had a lot of questions on the topic again, so I … Read more

Mosquito mistake

Mosquito mistake

I went to Venice last week.

I’d been once before, so I had great expectations.

The City of Water didn’t let me down: sun, wonderful streets, great architecture, boat rides, Italian gelato (three times a day) and wine without compare.

There was one drawback of having been there before, though – I went into the whole affair with an air of complacency and completely forgot something critical:

Canals = mosquitos.

Rabid mosquitos.

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The silent business killer threatening us all

The silent business killer threatening us all I was in Northern Ireland a few weeks ago, giving a presentation. Now, given that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, you might assume that employment law is the same as it is in Great Britain. You’d be dead wrong. Employment law is different in Northern … Read more

Pool car perk

Pool car perk

Got a “pool vehicle”?

Well, it depends on how it’s being used.

I was chatting to a club last week about one of their new employees – a course manager.

He’d decided that the pool vehicle should live at his house during evenings and weekends but charitably agreed that when he was on holiday, he’d leave it at work.

Here’s the problem – through HMRC’s eyes, that transforms the “pool vehicle” into a company car, which the course manager will have to pay tax on, just as if he were the only one using it.

If pool vehicles are taken home and used for anything other than specific work travel, they immediately become a taxable benefit.

Sucks for the course manager, but rules are rules.

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My exorbitant date with Taylor

My exorbitant date with Taylor

Everyone knows that a key part of sales and marketing is making the sales process as easy and frictionless as possible.

Look at Amazon – three buttons, and you can buy anything you want.  No friction, no hoops to jump through equals lots of sales and lots of profits.

But with all that said, there’s something to be said for a sales strategy at precisely the other end of the spectrum.

I experienced exactly this when my daughter asked me to join her at a Taylor Swift concert next year.

(If you’re a parent of a late-stage teenager, you’ll understand why I grabbed this opportunity with both hands!)

Getting the tickets was no mean feat.

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