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Auxil Ltd Health and Safety Consultants, Human Resources Consultants

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Interested in Health and Safety? Our new blog is now live - this month "Put up your goal posts"

Any questions just ASK
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Connor, our Health & Safety Coordinator, has been hard at work with his studies in recent months and is seeing the rewards for his efforts.

Firstly he has completed the citb Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS). The Construction Industry Training Board was first established in July 1964 and has been providing training for the construction and civil engineering industries ever since.

The SMSTS is run over 5 days and provides an understanding of health, safety, welfare and environmental issues on construction sites.

Connor has also received his BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Business Administration from Gloucestershire College. The Diploma covers a number of learning outcomes vital for management in business including analysing and presenting business data, developing working relationships with colleagues, managing personal performance and development and understanding employees’ rights and responsibilities.

Finally, Connor has passed two parts of the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. This qualification covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge.

The qualification is divided into three units, each of which is assessed separately:

• Management of Health and Safety (NGC1)
• Controlling workplace hazards (GC2)
• Health and safety practical application (GC3)

Connor has passed GC2 and GC3 and due to take NGC1 in December 2017 following completion of this qualification Connor will be able to complete site visits and reports autonomously.

Connor will then move onto the National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety and he is aiming to complete this course in March 2018.

We are very pleased with Connor’s progress and are sure that the experience gained from obtaining these qualifications will help him continue to grow into his professional career with us.
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I see we have reached October so the firework season is almost upon us.

The NHS announced in 2015 that there had been around 4,500 reported cases of people attending hospitals with firework related injuries, many of whom were children.

Here are ten tips for enjoying a safe firework display:

1. Rather than arranging one yourself, think about attending an organised display. Far fewer people are injured at these.
2. Buy your fireworks from reputable dealers and ensure they carry the British standard number BS7114.
3. Always keep your fireworks in a closed box and use just one at a time.
4. Avoid any naked flames near the fireworks, including cigarettes.

5. Sparklers are promoted as relatively ‘safe’ fireworks but are the ones responsible for most injuries. Only give to children over 5 to hold, ensure they are wearing gloves and that they hold them at arm’s length. Put into a bucket of cold water to fully extinguish.
6. If you are having a bonfire make sure it is not near to a shed or any fences. Also check the wind direction.
7. Do not use paraffin, petrol or methylated spirits to light a bonfire.
8. Make sure the spectators are well away from the fire and point any rockets, jumping jacks etc away from them.
9. The RSPCA estimate half of the nation’s pet dogs are scared of fireworks so be considerate of pets.
10. For further information, the Firework Code and video clips about firework safety visit
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A recent case of unfair dismissal was upheld and caught my eye because of comments concerning the lack of knowledge of employment law and good practice of the company directors involved.

Leicester Employment Tribunal heard that Lancaster & Duke is an employment agency but a relatively small business with two directors. Vicky Wileman was a recruitment manager at the firm but had been dismissed in September 2016 for ‘gross misconduct’. Her behaviour was described as that of a ‘playground bully’.

Nevertheless, she had her claim for unfair dismissal upheld and was awarded £7,684.34 in damages.

Employment judge Clark oversaw the case and said the directors did not have any “meaningful past experience of managing employees and particularly so in respect of managing performance or disciplinary matters.”

He criticised them further for failing to raise their concerns formally with the recruiter before dismissing her. “I recognise how a small employer with inexperienced directors might prefer to overlook matters and fail to address problems at the time, and I take that into account as far as it goes,” Clark said.

“However, there comes a point where even the smallest of employers must deal with issues and the size of an employer does not absolve it from the obligation to act reasonably in doing so.”

If you are a small business and are involved in a disciplinary or performance issue then rest assured that help and advice is available. Feel free to call me now on 03300 884352 for an informal chat.
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I recently came across a study by Capita Resourcing that found that, despite the over 50s now making up a third of the UK workforce, 74% of older workers felt employers don’t do enough to recruit them.

The researchers received contributions from 1,000 workers over 55 together with 100 senior HR professionals.

Over one third of the workers (39%) said that they had experienced bias towards younger members of staff in the workplace and 73% felt employers are not doing enough to tap into their knowledge and skill sets.

Sadly the majority of older workers do not feel they are respected in the workplace, while around a third (32%) feel they have been side lined with 17% believing they have been passed over for promotion simply because of their age.

94% of businesses claim employing older workers could be the key to bridging the skills gap but only one in five (23%) is actively looking to employ people over 50.

Meanwhile the Government is clearly convinced that people need to stay in work for longer as evidenced by the pension age rising again. 79% of employers say that the Government has not given enough thought as to how raising the retirement age will impact on businesses.

If you want to discuss how your company can attract older workers and benefit from their experience and skill sets, call me now on 03300 884352 for an informal chat.
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During the election and since I have noticed a lot of talk in the media and by politicians asking what working people actually want. A question that isn’t asked so often, but is interesting and relevant, is what is it that working people actually do.

When politicians want to be seen to be concerned about the working population, they tend to put on a hard hat and head to a factory or construction site. This may make for a wonderful photo opportunity but it bears little relation to real jobs in the UK today.

The BBC recently reported that less than one in ten people work in manufacturing and the figure is even less for the construction industry. Compared to that, four out of five people work in the service industries.

The service sector covers a vast range of jobs from bankers to plumbers, as well as public sector employees. It has been an area of massive growth in recent years, especially in public administration, education and health.

The BBC analysis also shows that there has been a huge growth in female employment and that they now represent nearly half of the workforce. In many instances there is a serious issue around the gender pay gap but rising female employment is considered to be a significant factor in the increase in living standards in the last fifty years.

There is also clear evidence that the working population is ageing. One in three people currently in work is over 50 compared to one in five as recently as 1992.

The other major employment trend is self-employment. There are currently nearly five million self-employed people in the UK doing jobs ranging from courier to management consultants. This represents an increase of 50% since the turn of the century.

There has also been a huge increase in the so-called gig economy in recent years, together with increases in zero-hours contracts and agency work.

Full time employment is still the norm, however. Nearly two-thirds of workers have full time jobs for an employer with an average working week of 32 hours, just an hour less than twenty-five years ago.

For more of this fascinating analysis visit this BBC website:
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Congratulations are in order for Connor, our new Health & Safety Coordinator, who has been busy in the classroom. He has recently passed a Health, Safety and Environment Test for Managers and Professionals.

The test is organised by the Construction and Industry Training Board (CITB) and provides employees with the minimum level of health, safety and environmental knowledge and awareness necessary for working on construction sites.

The Managers and Professionals Test includes behavioural case studies, five core knowledge sections and relevant specialist knowledge of key areas: Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, Demolition and Highway Works.

We hope Connor will now be encouraged to go on to take further work-related qualifications.

As an organisation we are aware of the need to keep up to speed with the ever-changing legislation affecting our industries and we encourage continuing professional development (CPD) amongst all our staff.

We also provide training courses in Health & Safety and Human Resources for companies which are detailed elsewhere on our website.

If you would like further information or to discuss your company’s own training requirements, please give me a call on 0330 088 4352.
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There have been a number of significant changes recently to statutory rates and compensation payments. Here is a roundup of some of the most important.

Family Friendly Payments:

New rates from 2nd April 2017:

• Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) - for the first six weeks, 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings. For the remaining weeks £140.98 or 90 per cent of employee’s weekly earnings if this is lower.

• Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) - for the first six weeks, 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings. For the remaining weeks £140.98 or 90 per cent of employee’s weekly earnings if this is lower.

• Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) - £140.98 or 90 per cent of employee’s weekly earnings if this is lower.

• Statutory Shared Paternal Leave Pay - £140.98 or 90 per cent of employee’s weekly earnings if this is lower.

Statutory Sick Pay:

New rate from 2nd April 2017 - £89.35.

National Living Wage:

New rates from 1st April 2017:

• Workers aged 25 and over - £7.50 per hour.
• Workers aged 21 and over - £7.05 per hour.
• Development rate for workers aged 18 to 20 - £5.60 per hour.
• Young workers rate for workers aged 16 to 17 - £4.05 per hour.
• Apprentice rate - £3.50 per hour.

I know how difficult it is keeping up to date with the latest legislation and I can help with this and any other HR issues you may have. Give me a call today on 03300 884352 for an informal chat about your requirements.
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You’d be surprised how often I get asked this question so I thought I’d write up a Case Study of one job I was heavily involved with.

Walmer Yard is a unique development of four spectacular new three storey houses with additional basements in West London, designed by Peter Salter for property developer Crispin Kelly. The project took some thirteen years to come to fruition and the resulting properties are expected to fetch a cool £22 million.

I was involved for nearly four years dealing with a host of Health & Safety issues that arose from this fascinating development.

The construction took place in a courtyard, a tight space between two existing houses, so one of the first things I needed to do was establish the party wall documentation. It was essential that none of our properties abutted the existing ones.

There was no water, sewers or drainage so that all had to be organised before work began. Once I met the workforce I realised I had a further problem as many did not have English as their first language. It was up to me to organise a team of interpreters to ensure they all understood what was required of them with regards to H&S. I also organised a thorough H&S induction for everyone associated with this unique site.

So that tells the first part of the story. For the rest, including how we got a crane in and out of the tiny site, take a look at this link:

If you need help with the Health and Safety aspects of any construction project, give me a call today on 03300 884352.
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I was interested to see that recent figures show sickness absence in the UK to be at its lowest rate since records began in 1993. A total of 137.3 million days were lost to sickness absence, equivalent to 4.3 days per worker.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which carries out the survey suggested that an ageing workforce and increase in the number of part-time employees may lead to changes in the future.

Here is how some of the figures break down:

• Companies with 500 or more employees saw more sickness days (2.5%) than companies with fewer than 25 people (1.6%)
• Self-employed people recorded a lower absence rate (1.1%) than employees (2.1%)
• Public sector workers experienced more absence (2.9%) than those in the private sector (1.7%)
• The sickness absence rate for part-time workers is greater (2.6%) than those in full-time employment (1.9%)
• Minor illnesses such as coughs and colds accounted for 25% of the absences, musculoskeletal issues for 22% and mental health problems 12%

Improvements in health care and targeted employer intervention were said to be major factors behind the improvement in the figures. However, it was also noted that with the rise in the state pension there are trends towards workers taking semi-retirement and accessing their pensions to extend employment on a part-time basis.

If your company needs HR advice on sickness absence or any other aspect of your HR policies feel free to call today on 03300 884352.
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