Uncategorised Your HR Roundup from Transgender Spats to Lord Alan Sugar’s Views on WFH

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

This month, we cover some meaty HR subjects, each with really important take-homes for SME businesses. This issue highlights include a shocking tribunal on how not to deal with mental health support, easy menopause ideas for the workplace, and Lord Alan Sugar letting his feelings be known about Working From Home. As always, we swiftly lead you through the most impactful HR news from the previous month in an easy-to-digest format—getting you up to speed in minutes. So, sit back and enjoy!

Lord Alan Sugar is Opposed to Working From Home: What do SMEs think?

Lord Alan Sugar remains staunchly opposed to remote working despite the growing trend towards flexible working arrangements. He has consistently criticised WFH models, dismissing them as less productive and detrimental to business success.

In response to initiatives promoting remote work, such as PwC’s offer of Friday afternoons off, Sugar has voiced his frustration, labelling such practices as “lazy” and insisting that productivity suffers outside the office.

Despite backlash from those who support remote work, Sugar continues to advocate traditional office setups, arguing that collaboration and productivity are best achieved in a centralised workspace. However, amid changing attitudes towards remote work, his views may face increasing scrutiny from businesses and workers embracing flexibility.

Lord Alan Sugar’s critique of remote work raises questions for SMEs navigating flexible arrangements. Some may agree with him. Others may find his approach old-school and outdated. For SMEs, offering flexibility could be their ticket to attracting and retaining the best talent. Smaller businesses have agility and flexibility over the bigger players. Offering hybrid and flexible working practices could prove to be a winning move when attracting and maintaining the best people.

If you’d like to chat about flexible workplace strategies or share your experiences, we’d love to hear from you! It is a real hot topic now. Let’s chat.

Mental Health at Work: An example of what NOT to do!

Mental health is a topic close to my heart and also one we are seeing a lot of at the moment. As a mental health first aider, I know first hand, the value workplace support and awareness can bring. The following tribunal provides a shocking example of how NOT to approach things!

A recent tribunal discovered how the owners of this company created a hostile environment for a lady upon her return from mental health absence – including making rude comments about her weight and mental health before dismissing her, with comments including that she would be “the size of a house” if she did not stop eating.

The tribunal concluded that her treatment amounted to discrimination and harassment relating to her mental health disability. The judgment highlighted the deliberate shift in attitude towards the lady upon her return, with behaviour calculated to undermine her. Former colleague’s testimonies also supported her claims of mistreatment.

The Judge emphasised the damaging impact of the treatment on this lady’s mental health and the clear breach of trust and confidence between her and the company owners when they made their conclusions.

What’s your takeaway? Employees returning from mental health absence need support. Robust HR procedures can prevent discrimination and improve workplace culture and performance.

Need help? Let’s chat.

How can SMEs best Navigate Menopause in the Workplace?

In truth, even women’s views vary about this, usually based on how bad their own symptoms are/were.  I have friends who had to stop work because their menopause symptoms were so bad and others who seemed to breeze through the event. Either way, employers need to understand their legal duties – so let’s take a closer look.

New EHRC guidance addresses menopause in the workplace, covering support options and legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010—this guidance aims to foster positive discussions and reasonable adjustments.

Many women experience negative impacts from menopausal symptoms at work, yet few request adjustments due to concerns about employers’ reactions. The EHRC underscores the importance of supporting menopausal workers and the legal responsibilities required to ensure workplace fairness.

Failure to support menopausal employees may lead to legal implications under discrimination laws. The guidance aims to empower women to speak openly about their needs and encourages employers to create inclusive policies and practices. Click here to read more.

Next, we look at what businesses of all sizes can do in their workplaces to help.

Six HOT Tips for Workplace Menopause Support:

Going through menopause is no joke, nor is it some guilty secret that women must endure quietly. Thanks to media coverage, people are seeing the bigger picture. If you want to get the best from your employees going through menopause, here are a few ideas worth adopting:

  • Offer quiet places for breaks
  • Add fans or AC for hot flushes
  • Make your dress code more relaxed
  • Create a culture of listening and support
  • Allow flexible working practices
  • Change working hours

What’s your take home? Under the Equality Act 2010, your legal obligations require you to make reasonable adjustments for menopausal symptoms and avoid discrimination and harassment. Need some help or ideas on how best to implement this in your workplace? Let’s chat.

Tribunal in focus: HR Lessons from the Green Party’s Transgender Criticism

Even though people can be dismissed if their views differ from the ‘norm’, this must be done fairly and according to the organisation’s procedure. Why? because mistakes can prove costly.

When the Green Party in England and Wales removed a spokesperson because of his incompatible views with the party’s recognition of transgender rights – with him believing men and women are defined by their biology, with the party saying anyone can identify as any gender – the conflict was clear.

If done fairly, businesses can remove employees for beliefs inconsistent with a company’s stated policies. However, on this occasion, the court decided the party didn’t follow the right steps when they removed this spokesperson, citing that his dismissal was procedurally unfair. Subsequently, he was awarded £9,100.

Your take-home? Workplaces should always promote respect for diverse beliefs. Handling clashes through policies means avoiding taking sides in contentious debates. This also upholds fairness and protects all employees’ rights.

Reach out if you need policy advice or HR guidance. Let’s chat.

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