Friday, 25 September 2015

Tackle your staff head on

Japan’s victory over South Africa may have created some early excitement in the Rugby World Cup – but workers could find themselves being tackled by bosses if they are caught watching games during office hours.

Workplace relations organisation ACAS has issued guidelines to employers over how to handle the impact caused by mid-afternoon kick-off times during the competition, which runs until October 31.

And employment law experts at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, say it is important for companies to have policies in place which regulate the use of social media and the internet during the working day.

Head of Employment Law, John Mehtam, said: “Introducing an element of flexibility into working patterns could be in everyone’s interests – but it is important not to show any perceived favouritism towards those with sporting interests.

“Remember, for every person who is keen to keep in touch with the Rugby World Cup, there will no doubt be a colleague who isn’t the remotest bit interested. Above all, our advice to employers is to be fair and consistent when allowing time off.

“Whether or not you currently have flexible working in your business, it may be something to consider, even as a short-term measure. One option that may be agreeable would be to have a more flexible working day, when employees may come in a little later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up.

“Allowing staff to listen to or watch some events may be another possible option. It may also be possible to allow staff to take a break during popular events – these are all suggestions which ACAS supports.

“There may be problems though around staff watching lengthy coverage via their computers. Why not plan for popular sporting events in advance - perhaps giving staff access to a TV during agreed times?

“There may be an increase in the use of sporting websites and social media during key games, and employers should have a clear policy regarding the use of the internet in the workplace, which is clearly communicated to all staff.

“If you can prove that people are taking unauthorised time off just to watch a match, you could instigate disciplinary proceedings, but a more sensible approach may be to take the initiative, and be flexible, which will lead to more harmony in the workplace – no matter which team your staff are supporting!”

Friday, 18 September 2015

Graham joins a business road safety campaign

Our senior partner Graham Davies has been working with organisers of a road safety campaign that's attracting national attention.

The initiative from TTC Group, in Telford, aims to encourage business leaders to take action to cut road deaths and injuries among their employees.

Graham joined Lord Digby Jones at the launch where the industry stalwart said implementing workplace road safety was "the right thing to do".

As part of the event, 515 black balloons were released to represent the number of people who died in just one year as a result of driving at work.

Lord Jones said: "People are dying on the road every day. Five people will die today, tomorrow another five and every day after that. A third are driving in a car on business - businesses can be a force for good, and we can change things."

At the launch, TTC Group unveiled a new product, TTC DriverProtect which is a management practice system that Lord Jones said ticked all the boxes for health and safety compliance.

Graham Davies said: "The figures we've heard today are staggering and with the number of vehicles on the road increasing, the risk to employers is also on the rise.

"My role at the launch was to give an overview of the obligations employers face every day, and to advise them of the best way to stay within the law and reduce the risk to their company and their employees."

TTC Group Road Safety Director Alan Prosser said many companies were still oblivious to the potential cost, impact and legal risks they faced.

"More than one in four fatal collisions involves someone who is on a work journey and the financial cost is enormous - £14 billion a year, with each death costing just under £2 million. On top of that, the personal and human costs are immeasurable."

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Business road safety campaign launch

Lord Digby Jones will launch 515 balloons at a business road safety event to show the number of people who died in the UK in just one year as a result of work-related journeys.

The event will take place at the Shropshire HQ of road safety organisation, the TTC Group, on September 17 at 10.30am, as part of a campaign to encourage the business world to help cut workplace road deaths and injuries.

And Martin-Kaye's senior partner Graham Davies is set to play a key role in the launch offering specialist advice to employers and spelling out their obligations.
"I'm very pleased to be joining TTC at their event to explain to employers what their obligations are, the legal framework that surrounds the issues, and the penalties you'll face if you flout the rules," said Graham.

The aim of the launch is to show businesses how they must change in the 21st century, and Lord Digby Jones - international businessman and former UK Trade Minister - will talk about how company bosses can protect "the bottom line" while helping to save lives at the same time.

Business leaders will hear how they can minimise the risks to staff by managing workplace road safety online with the launch of TTC DriverProtect software.

In 2013, a total of 515 motorists, passengers and riders died driving on work-related business - 111 of them going to and home from work. There were 5,052 serious injuries and 42,035 slight injuries, and road crashes cost an estimated £14.7 billion each year.

At the Telford launch, firefighters will showcase the skills they use to rescue hundreds of people each year by cutting a business manager free from a wrecked car.

Alan Prosser, director of the TTC Group which educates 320,000 road users each year to reduce casualties, said they were launching the campaign to show the business world how they can easily adopt measures to minimise the dangers on the road for their staff while cutting costs at the same time.

"Every year there are more than 500 deaths and thousands of people injured driving at work. Nearly all these casualties are preventable and it's costing companies millions. The human cost is incalculable," said Alan.

To find out more about the launch email or visit

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Stewing over tea break dilemmas

British workers are renowned for their love of a tea break, but a Shropshire solicitor has warned they are not a given right.

John Mehtam is the employment law expert at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, and he said research had shown the average British worker enjoyed four cups of tea during every working day.

“But contrary to what your staff may believe, as an employer, you’re not required to provide staff with hot drinks or the facilities to make them.

“You might decide you want to provide milk, teabags and coffee – and given the emotional attachment many workers have to their beloved cuppa, it could be a sound business proposition!

“But it’s not something you’re required to do by law, and indeed, the cost of providing such refreshments over a year could add up significantly, particularly if you have a large workforce.”

John said providing a kitchen, kettle and fridge could also create potential health and safety issues which an employer may choose not to take on.

“Burns, electric shocks, or even food poisoning could all crop up, but if you have a sensible kitchen policy in place, that should go a long way to reducing the risks, so make sure it’s clearly set out in your staff handbook.

“Tea breaks may seem like an unassuming element of the working day, but throughout history, they have become an iconic symbol of British working patterns, and you may decide that failing to provide the equipment or the materials to make a hot drink would be a step too far.

“Our Alpha employment experts have wide ranging experience in creating bespoke, legally compliant policies for any business, and we can help you draw up a strategy that will keep your workplace kitchen – and your staff – safe, while maintaining a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.”

Friday, 14 August 2015

Social media - which side are you on?

Social media is changing the face of employment law – and employers need to stay one step ahead of the game. But what if an employee’s personal social media accounts start to conflict with your company’s business interests?

Employment law expert, Lubna Laheria, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said: “Social media is a fairly controversial aspect of employment law, and as technology evolves, it’s a sector that’s constantly changing.

“It has opened up great opportunities for companies when it comes to marketing and connecting with potential customers, clients or suppliers, but given that the vast majority of your staff are probably using social media in their personal lives too, what happens if conflicts arise?”

Lubna’s warning is particularly topical given a recent court case involving the retailer, Game. One of their managers, who was responsible for around 100 stores, was guilty of posting a number of offensive tweets.

He followed many of the company’s stores on Twitter from his personal account, mainly to monitor their activity, and 65 of the stores also followed him back, which meant they could see his personal tweets.

A fellow manager raised concerns over the tweets he posted, which insulted several community groups, and following a company investigation, the manager responsible was dismissed for gross misconduct.

“The Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that this was a reasonable dismissal, and they agreed that the tweets could not be considered private, particularly as the manager had followed 100 stores on Twitter ‘for a work purpose’,” said Lubna.

“Employers should make sure they have a detailed policy in place which clearly explains to staff what is expected of them when it comes to social media postings, and emphasise that personal and work-related accounts should be kept separate.

“Our employment law experts have wide ranging experience in tailoring social media policies that will meet the specific needs of your business, and it’s vital that employers protect their company’s reputation and brand by ensuring that staff follow the rules.”

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Extra HELP is on its way

Experts from a Midlands law firm were so inundated with bookings from local employers for their latest seminar that they’re planning a repeat event.

Lawyers from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Wolverhampton, organised the advice session at the Ramada Park Hall Hotel to help employers tackle staff sickness absence.

And it seems their choice of topic really touched a nerve with employers from across the region.

Speakers on the night were employment law specialists John Mehtam and Lubna Laheria, who shared their top ten tips on how to deal with the problem of staff taking a sneaky day off claiming to be ill.

Martin-Kaye Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “We were absolutely amazed at the number of employers who wanted to join us at the seminar, and it’s clear that staff sickness absence is an issue that affects companies of all shapes and sizes.

“To cope with the demand, we are now planning a re-run of the event so that we can accommodate another capacity audience and share our expertise.”

John Mehtam said the seminar was targeted specifically at business owners, leaders and human resources managers.

“Our aim was to explain how companies can tackle sickness absence but most importantly, how they can do it and still stay within the law. And although it’s frustrating for employers who hear lame excuses about why their staff can’t make it into work, it’s equally vital that those employers are able to recognise the difference when staff may actually be genuinely ill.”

John said employers must also handle the situation appropriately, knowing what their legal rights were, and take the action that best suited the individual employee’s circumstances.

The presentation was the latest in a series of HELP seminars run by Martin-Kaye which are designed to help employers learn how to deal with common situations they may face every day in their business.

HELP stands for HR and Employment Law in Practice and the events offer businesses a unique opportunity to hear from the experts when it comes to tackling topical issues.

Pic: At the Martin-Kaye seminar are, from left, John Mehtam, Lubna Laheria and Graham Davies

Monday, 3 August 2015

Bad advice costs victims dearly

Victims of professional negligence now have direct access to expert support thanks to a new website created by a Shropshire law firm.

The team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, has launched to deal specifically with cases where clients have lost out financially after receiving bad advice.

Andrew Oranjuik, the firm’s Head of Dispute Resolution, said: “We have created the website as a direct result of a surge in negligence claims against professional advisers, and the service is already attracting a lot of attention.

“Our aim is to help clients to recover any financial losses they have suffered as a result of mistakes made by their advisers, and our wide-ranging experience in this area of law will prove invaluable in taking the project forward.”

Martin-Kaye are members of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association, and the law firm has been recognised by the Legal 500 as being particularly active in cases of this type.

Andrew has personally handled many claims against professionals including one case where the claimed losses were around £10 million. His team is also made up of Mohammed Ahsan and Jason Round.

The professional negligence claims service can be used to bring claims against all kinds of professionals including: solicitors, barristers, accountants, financial advisers, brokers, and surveyors.

“Most professionals are required by law to have indemnity insurance in place, which means if your claim is successful, the adviser’s insurer should pay the compensation,” said Andrew. “We recognise too that legal action can be expensive, so we have many different options when it comes to fees, such as ‘no win, no fee’ in suitable cases, legal expenses insurance, fixed fees, or ongoing payments as the case progresses.

“The thought of taking action against someone you once appointed as a trusted adviser can be daunting, but our aim is to take you through the process with a clear and strategic approach. Our experts have handled cases involving all sorts of professional advisers, so we’re extremely well prepared and ready to make your voice heard.”

Pic: Launching the new website are, from left, Mohammed Ahsan, Andrew Oranjuik and Jason Round at Martin-Kaye Solicitors