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October 2015 Newsletter

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Headless about how to approach Halloween?
With Halloween fast approaching I recently got asked by one of our members of staff if they could dress up in fancy dress for dress down Friday instead of normal dress down clothes. Having not come across this before I thought I’d research into it, and have come up with some helpful tips and guidelines on how approach it!

Getting Ready – Is the day going to be a “just for fun”, or will you take the opportunity to use it for a fundraiser for your local charity, either way make sure that the day is advertised throughout the organisation and all staff are given the opportunity to join in.

But I don’t want to do this!– It's important remember that quite often people love or hate this occasion, there is never really a middle ground in this sort of activity. For this reason you should realise fancy dress is an optional activity, not one that you MUST partake in. You should also be wary not to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t want to participate as they may have their own personal reasons not to!

Is it safe? – You need to ensure that your staff are reasonable and sensible regarding the costumes they dress up in ie make sure there are no potential risks (e.g. slips, trips and falls)

What about the outside World? - Will you have any visitors or customers visiting on the day? It might not look too good if an important client was coming in to see you and you were dressed as vampires & ghosts!

Even if this isn’t a risk you should always have at least one senior person on your workforce who doesn’t participate in fancy dress. That’s because it adds a level of difficulty to the tasks put before you when dressed up and it’s always good to have at least one team member on hand with the authority to carry out higher level tasks with swiftness and effectiveness! It’s quite hard to take someone seriously when they’re in a funny costume let’s be honest! 

Finally if fancy dress is worn for a charity organisation, don’t be the one responsible for the collection! This should all be down to the employee who planned and organised the day!!

For any further advice and guidance please call 0151 348 6660 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Happy Halloween!!

Absence Management
One of the biggest concerns many organisations face is the high level staff absence, and if it not tackled head on can lead to resentment from your more reliable staff. One of the most effective ways of handling the problem is to conduct 5-minute return to work interview after every episode. This approach has been shown to significantly reduce sickness absence occurrences. It discourages people from taking ‘duvet days’ if their sickness is not genuine, as it is too difficult to lie to the boss. If the sickness is genuine, those 5 minutes show you care and are genuinely interested in their well-being, and it can lead to more open conversations in the future if there is a health issue.

We also encourage employers to insist that staff must ring in and speak to their line manager to report their absence, if they say they feel unwell, we ask them to ring in later with an update on their condition and suggest that they might feel well enough to come in later in the day!

For further advice and guidance please call 0151 348 6660 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

National Minimum Wage
rom the 1st October 2015 the National Minimum Wage was increased and it is your duty as an employer to ensure that you pay your staff accordingly. The new hourly rates are as follows:
Apprentice

£3.30                   

Under 18

£3.87

18 - 20

£5.30

21 and over

£6.70


In addition to the hourly rates you need to ensure that if you are paying staff on a salary basis this will also need to be increased. The figures below are based on an employee working 5 days a week, 40 hours per day:
Apprentice

£6864                  

Under 18

£7696

18 - 20

£11,024

21 and over

£13,936


If you have any salaried staff on the minimum salary for their age any additional hours worked must be paid.

For further advice and guidance please call 0151 348 6660 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Question Time
This is the section of the newsletter where we answer questions that have been raised by our clients & contacts over the last month. If you have a question please email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Question: We have just taken on a new employee and he appears to have all the skills we require, however towards the end of his first week he asked if he could change his hours and come in half an hour early and leave half an hour earlier. He said that he was told at his interview that this would be OK! Currently everyone works 9-5. What should we do?

Answer: First off this has to be one of the quickest requests I have heard of for flexible working!

Since June 2014 any employee with 26 weeks service has the right to request Flexible working.

There is no restriction on the reason for the request. In the past, the majority of the requests were in relation to dropping children off at school or picking them up; or maybe a woman who was returning from maternity leave wanted to reduce her days from five to three so that she could spend more time at home with her new baby.

The changes in the rules means that your staff can ask for a change in their working hours because they want to play in a football league and all matches are played on a Saturday afternoon when this is your employee’s normal working day. Or an employee could ask to start work an hour later each day because “she just isn’t a morning person”.

You have a duty to consider the request although there is no longer a need to follow a statutory procedure. You have much more flexibility in terms of when to hold a discussion about a request with an employee; and when to make the employee aware of your decision. The old rules included having to hold a meeting within 28 days of the date the request was received but these have been removed. You now have a general principle of concluding the process within three months

So what are we doing with this request? While clearly he has not met the criteria for submitting a request for Flexible working, we have met with him and agreed to review his request on completion of his probation and it is quite likely his request will be granted!

For further advice and guidance on Flexible Working please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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