With Halloween becoming a much bigger thing in the UK, here are five issues to be aware off that could lead to more scary consequences!


  1. Discrimination against non-mainstream religious beliefs

Employers must avoid the temptation to take non-mainstream religious beliefs less seriously than the major religions.

The Equality Act 2010 simply defines religion as “any religion”, and does not state the belief has to be a major religion to be protected.

In the 2011 census, 57,000 people identified themselves as Pagan.

In Holland v Angel Supermarket Ltd and another, a Wiccan employee who claimed she was mocked and later dismissed after switching her shifts to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve won a religion or belief discrimination claim.


  1. Discrimination by fancy dress

Employers commonly use fancy dress as a motivational tool during certain times of the year, for example when running themed sales days.

However, fancy dress has the scope to offend some groups, particularly if employees are given no option but to take part.

For example, a Halloween costume that stereotypes someone with a mental health problem, or from a particular religion or nationality, could lead to a discrimination claim.

Two successful employment tribunal claims demonstrate the problems that can occur when employees are expected to dress up at work.

In X v Y, the tribunal found that a gay employee was harassed at a workplace fancy-dress event that he could not opt out of and lent itself to banter of a sexual nature that could easily offend.

In Brown v Young & Co.’s Brewery, the tribunal found that a manager harassed a black pub worker when he told him that he “looked like a pimp” when he was wearing a promotional St Patrick’s Day hat.


  1. Halloween-related misconduct

Employers may find that an employee commits misconduct during Halloween.

For example, an employee might bring inappropriate items such as fireworks into work, or use Halloween-related imagery in an inappropriate way.

The employee in Biggin Hill Airport v Derwich was dismissed after she placed an image of a witch as a screensaver on the computer of a colleague with whom she had fallen out.


  1. Social media misconduct

These days, what employees post on social media can be as much of a concern for employers as what they do at work.

For instance, Welsh international rugby player Liam Williams apologised in December 2014 after he posted a picture on Twitter of himself at a fancy dress party “blacked up” as the footballer Wilfried Bony.

Employers should have in place a social media policy to make it clear that any inappropriate social use of the internet outside the workplace could result in disciplinary action if it brings the company’s reputation into disrepute.


  1. Absence management

Employers should make it clear to employees that absence because of a hangover, or coming to work but being unable to function, following the Halloween weekend is unacceptable.

Before taking disciplinary action, an employer would need evidence that the employee was off sick as the direct result of a hangover, or came to work and was unable to perform his or her duties.

Some employers reserve the right to carry out random alcohol tests on employees, particularly in safety-critical industries.

Should Staff Get Paid For Snow Days

Should Staff Get Paid For Snow Days

The so called ‘Beast from the East’ certainly made its presence known last week causing major disruption across the UK.  Some are estimating that the cost to the Scottish economy is at least £300M.   The red travel warning and school closures meant that many employees were unable to make it into their work.  So how does this affect pay?

Whilst employers have a duty of care to employees that doesn’t make a blanket policy that ‘we will just pay you for however long the bad weather lasts’.  Essentially it will be down to the discretion of individual companies if workers are paid for snow days.

Importantly, if an employer is insisting staff go home and are not permitting employees to work because of the weather warning, then the employer may be perceived as enforcing leave on the employee. Provided the employee is present and willing to work they should then be paid for this absence. In this situation it is unlikely to be deemed fair to deduct wages and may expose the employer to an unfair deduction of wages claim.

With the introduction of the Amber and Red Travel Warnings, at Solve we are advising and updating for our clients our Severe Weather policy normally contained in Employee handbooks. We will be amending these policies following the bad weather to include point one below and to further develop a number of existing solutions;


  1. Pay for the time that the ‘Red warning’ was in force, particularly if you as an employer were required to send employees home who were present and willing to work
  2. Enabling employees to make up the lost time at a later date- e.g. a couple of shortened lunches or half an hour at the end of the day, which in turn facilitates a focus on lost productivity and support the company with backlog rather than a one way conversation about pay.
  3. Taking any non-mandatory absence from work as part of annual leave entitlement.
  4. Or allowing any non-mandatory absence from work as special unpaid leave (in this case, pay will reduce accordingly to take account of the hours/days not worked).
  5. Work from home.

Contact us for further advice and support on how to deal with severe weather issues.

hospitality and human resources

hospitality and human resources

Working in your industry Solve. is aware that poor staff retention, persistent ER issues, lack of employee engagement and absenteeism is costing your business in terms of operational issues, loss of contracts, overtime and most importantly your reputation.

Does this sound familiar;

  • You’re starting to feel like your business has a ‘revolving door’, constantly having to advertise for new staff and spend time and money training them?
  • High levels of sick absence causing you stress?
  • Clients complaining about levels of service?
  • Sickness as a result of Alcohol and Drug related issues on the rise?
  • Grievances becoming more frequent?

At Solve. we help your business develop robust and practical HR policies that will help you manage your staff more effectively.  We can also support you to recruit employees who are the right fit for your organisation.

Sickness absence is an issue that affects every organisation.  According to one survey, the days lost as a result of sick absences came to a cost of £16 billion for employers in 2015.  It’s, therefore essential to have robust sickness absence policy and procedures in place in order to monitor and manage sickness absence.  Here are Solve’s top 5 tips to sickness absence management:

1. Have a clearly defined sickness absence policy and procedure with set trigger points

2. Ensure that everyone in the organisation is aware of the policy and procedures and the attendance standards expected of them

3. Ensure that all absence is recorded and monitored, look out for patterns in attendance

4. Have a Return to Work Interview after every absence in order to understand the reasons for the absence and identify underlying issues

5. Ensure that the policy and procedures are consistently adhered to and followed through to ensure fairness for everyone in the organisation

Employees still don’t feel mental health issues get enough support at work.

Employers should take more preventative steps to promote good employee mental well-being, encouraging a culture of openness and provide training to managers to help support and signpost employees.  Investing in preventative measures, as well as building an open and supportive culture within the Company around mental health, could help to enhance people’s mental well-being.

The top 5 ways that employers can help provide support to their employees at work, include: –

1. Phased Return to Work Programmes

2. Access to Flexible Working

3. Access to Occupational Health Services

4. Access to Counselling Services

5. Access to an Employee Assistance Programme

There are several types of support that are not rarely provided, such as: –

1. Resilience or mindfulness training for employees;

2. Training for line managers in managing and supporting people with mental health problems;

3. Having mental health champions to raise awareness of the importance of mental health at work and the support available.

Employers should consider implementing these more preventative types of steps to promote good mental health, as well as reactive approaches that come into play when people are already experiencing poor mental health.

Wellbeing is about feeling good and functioning well and comprises an individual’s experience of their life; and a comparison of life circumstances with social norms and values.

According to ACAS, work can have a positive impact on your health and well-being. Taking an interest in your employee’s health and well-being can bring about some positive effects for your business, such as motivated and engaged workers, along with higher productivity levels.

It is the responsibility of employer and employee to take care of an employee’s physical and mental well-being. There are Health and Safety Laws that ensure both employer and employee consider the physical hazards in the workplace, however there is little legislation surrounding managing an employee’s emotional needs.

Some top tips for looking after your employee’s Health and Well-being are:

1. Don’t have a culture of taking work home, get your employees to leave the office, at the office and use their spare time to do activities they enjoy.

2. Design and implement health promotion initiatives to encourage employees to take care of themselves, both physically and mentally.

3. Make sure jobs are designed fairly and that work is allocated appropriately between teams.

4. Encourage regular short breaks from their workstation, a change of scenery can work wonders for recharging your batteries throughout the day.

5. Take time to walk and stretch during breaks, go outside and get some fresh air.

6. Encourage employees to take their annual leave, this will help them to unwind and re-charge.

7. Deep breathing exercises will help your employee relax when feeling under pressure.

8. Celebrate successes and focus on what they have achieved throughout the day, rather than what hasn’t been achieved.

9. Develop a Health and Well-being policy to ensure clear guidance is available to all staff for managing this part of the employee lifecycle.

10. Train managers on how to promote and monitor the health and wellbeing of employees.