Hot Topics Your HR Roundup From the Post Office Scandal to Workplace Big Brother

February 2024. By Kimberly Bradshaw (CEO, Spotlight HR.)

From the Post Office Scandal to Amazon’s eye-watering €32 million fine, for overstepping Big Brother employee surveillance, Spotlight HR identifies the latest HR stories relevant to you this month, in a quick 3-minute read. With government changes to tribunal fees and managing hybrid working, also covered, this is one not to be missed. Enjoy!

The Post Office Scandal: the HR lessons learned from this very British outrage

The Post Office scandal, highlighted by the ITV drama ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office,’ if nothing else, sheds light on the importance of leadership listening.

Sub-postmasters, accused of theft due to faulty software, faced a David vs Goliath battle – one that has ignited global outrage. So, what can SMEs take away from this and why should we be listening more?

  • The case underscores the significance of leaders actively listening to concerns, ideas, and feedback from all levels within organisations.
  • Effective listening fosters empathy, builds trust, and enhances employee engagement.
  • The scandal prompts reflection on leadership attitudes towards dissenting voices and the consequences of dismissing employee input.
  • Leaders must prioritise active listening in day-to-day interactions, meetings, and performance evaluations to create a supportive work culture.
  • Improved listening not only strengthens communication but also promotes understanding, alignment, and a sense of value among team members.


SME take-home: The Post Office scandal highlights the importance of leadership listening: SMEs, like all corporations, must prioritise active listening to improve employee engagement and trust. To effectively implement these changes, sometimes a cultural HR workplace shift is needed, but the benefits to both employees’ wellbeing and productivity can prove enormous.

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Employee Monitoring: Lessons from Amazon’s whopping €32m Fine

Amazon’s hefty €32m fine for “excessive” employee monitoring, reignites discussions on workplace surveillance’s legality, morality, and productivity effects. Questioning the ethics of employers taking a Big Brother approach.

French data protection authority CNIL criticised Amazon France Logistique’s intrusive system, flagging potential breaches of employee rights. The move prompts scrutiny of monitoring’s impact on workplace culture, trust, and individual wellbeing.

Research shows a surge in productivity monitoring post-Covid, is raising concerns about overreach and its psychological toll on workers. Legal experts highlighting potential breaches of data protection regulations and employment contracts, warn of implications for employer-employee relations.

Balancing the need for performance against respect for privacy emerges as a key challenge for businesses navigating the evolving landscape of workplace surveillance.

Your take-home? SMEs, the same as large corporations, face scrutiny on workplace monitoring legality, ethics and productivity. To avoid potential legal and data protection implications, you must know where your HR line is drawn.

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Tribunal Fee Revival: Government’s Move Sparks Debate on Fairness and Access to Justice

The government is considering reinstating employment tribunal fees, proposing a £55 charge to issue any claim, sparking debate over access to justice.

Previous fees were ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in 2017, for hindering access to justice, resulting in a 39% increase in cases afterwards. Critics argue the proposed fees could deter claimants, especially those financially disadvantaged. However, supporters suggest the streamlined fee structure may mitigate past issues.

Whilst the impact on the backlog of cases remains uncertain, some anticipate a reduction in claims, particularly for lower-value disputes. The consultation is open until March 25, 2024, inviting stakeholders to weigh in on the potential reintroduction of tribunal fees. We will keep you posted.

Your take-home? The potential reintroduction of tribunal fees may impact those who would struggle with the legal costs of pursuing workplace tribunals, influencing access to justice. The best HR practice is always to maintain communication to prevent ill feelings and to iron out disagreements before things go legal.

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Tribunal in focus: How will this hybrid working case impact your Workplace?

A recent tribunal ruling denied a, £140,000-a-year, manager’s bid, to work entirely from home, highlighting the evolving debate on remote work. This is a topic we all need to be on top of.

This case underscores the importance of assessing flexible working requests on a case-by-case basis, with implications for both employers and employees. Importantly, leaders must demonstrate transparent and fair consideration of such requests to avoid potential discrimination claims.

As the workforce leans towards hybrid models, businesses must develop clear policies and engage in open dialogues with employees to foster productivity and company culture. Flexibility has become a crucial factor in attracting and retaining top talent, with many candidates prioritising remote work options. While hybrid working emerges as the preferred arrangement for most employees, maintaining productivity is also a challenge – these are the requirements that need to be balanced.

Your take-home? SMEs must navigate flexible work requests judiciously, considering legal implications, employee preferences, and productivity needed, to retain top talent. Managing this is no longer a nice to have, but an HR must. Reach out if you need advice.

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