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    Employment Law & HR Roundup 15/10 – 21/10

    With fresh accusations and new horror stories emerging daily, people on both sides of the Atlantic are still reeling from the revelations of historic instances of sexual harassment committed by Harvey Weinstein. Despite the constant flow of new information about Weinstein’s crimes, for many, the question at the centre of the scandal remains the same; why was he allowed to get away with his actions for so long?

    In this week’s Employment Law & HR briefing, we will discuss how organisations can support employees who come forward with sexual harassment claims. We will also focus on engaging your staff, how a disagreement over a desk move left an employee being awarded £75,000, wage stagnation and wellbeing in the workplace.


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    Sexual harassment: how to make staff take complaints seriously

    The current scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein has not only brought into the question the conditions that allow successful men to abuse their positions of power, but also the responsibility that organisations have to protect people from things like sexual harassment. The accusations against Weinstein, which continue to increase in number, have damaged the reputation of Hollywood and revealed it to be an environment in which women feel reluctant to come forward to report serious crimes.

    It is important for victims of sexual harassment to feel as though they can report incidents without fear of being disbelieved or ruining their careers. As employers, there are practical steps you can take to ensure that you support and encourage employees to report sexual harassment in the workplace. Failing to do so could not only cause great suffering for the members of your team, but lead to significant reputational and financial detriment to your business.

    From investigating all claims made to providing better support for the person who reported it, this article suggests 5 ways employers can ensure incidents of sexual harassment are tackled properly.


    Why engaging staff is about more than funky furniture and ‘faux fun’

    A recent study by management consultant company Gallup, has found that just 11 percent of UK employees feel engaged at work. This figure becomes even more striking when compared to the US where 33 per cent feel engaged in the workplace.

    With the ONS reporting that labour productivity has fallen for the second consecutive quarter, ensuring your employees are engaged at work is key to their wellbeing and performance.

    Many workplaces have found novel ways of trying to encourage employee engagement; from installing office slides to providing ping pong tables. However, one employment specialist argues that true employee engagement comes from internal happiness; something that all the quirky furniture in the world cannot buy. “To have the resources and enthusiasm to be engaged at work, employees have to feel happy in themselves, so it’s not just about the nine-to-five,” he says.

    Read more about how employers can improve employee engagement here.


    Admin officer fired over desk move disagreement wins £75,000

    A woman who was sacked after a disagreement over a desk move that led to time off for mental ill-health has been awarded £75,000 by an employment tribunal.

    The tribunal found that the employer failed to make reasonable adjustments for the depression, anxiety and alcoholism the employee was suffering. Because the employee had provided several examples of evidence that suggested she needed the ‘the security of an established routine at the workplace and that any change posed a threat that unsettled her’, the employer was ordered to pay £75,294.89, including £38,000 for pension losses, £17,152.22 for lost earnings and £15,000 for injury to feelings.

    This case shows just how important it is to take the mental health of an employee into consideration when making a dismissal. Read the full report here.


    Real wages fall despite low levels of unemployment

    The UK is experiencing its lowest levels of unemployment since the mid-1970s. However, official figures show that the average earnings of UK workers are no higher than in February 2006.

    Speaking about the labour market, one senior ONS statistician said, ‘Many labour market measures continue to strengthen. Employment growth in the latest three-month period was driven mainly by women, with a corresponding drop in inactivity. Vacancies remain robust, at a near-record level”.

    The fact that the UK’s growing workforce is not leading to higher wages means that many workers are feeling the pinch. ‘Today’s figures confirm the big picture trend that the UK labour market is great at creating jobs, but terrible at raising people’s pay’ said Stephen Clark, an economic analyst at thinktank, Resolution Foundation.

    Read more about the wage growth here.


    Five wellbeing lessons Britain can learn from Romania

    Once under the rule of a Soviet backed Communist regime, Romania is now the fastest growing country in Europe. Spurred on by an expanding tech sector and educational excellence, in recent years major global companies like Siemens, Ford and Bosch have set up opperations in Romania. According to the International Monetary Fund, its economy is expected to grow by 5.5% for the whole of 2017.

    Despite the average wage remaining far below the European average, Romania boasts the highest scores across Europe for mental vitality, motivation, staff retention and importantly, productivity.

    This article gives five lessons for employers on employee wellbeing.



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