What Are The Ways in Which the Levy Can Work For You?

1. Review your current training needs to meet your businesses needs and see if apprenticeships could meet these. You can up skill your existing staff to meet the business need and build a better workforce who feel that their employer is investing in them.


2. Apprenticeships now apply to business roles beyond the shop floor. Did you know that there are apprenticeships for HR partner/consultant, accountancy, credit control, sales roles, marketing and project management. Recruitment for these roles often takes place to deal with an issue quickly or to get a fully formed and experienced person in place and the apprenticeship role is not suited to that scenario BUT it should be remembered that an apprentice will develop into the role and will have a thorough understanding of the Company and its ways of working and potentially greater loyalty.


3. The Centre for Economic and Business Research found businesses can expect a positive net gain of £13,824 per year for each leadership and management apprentice they hire (cebr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/The-Benefits-of-Apprenticeships-to-Businesses.pdf). In the short term they provide a higher return on investment than in areas more typically associated with apprenticeships, including hospitality, construction and health and social care.

There are a number of apprenticeship levels available for training business leaders depending on where they are in their career. Level 3 apprenticeships, such as the Team Leader and Supervisor course, are equivalent to an A level. Higher level courses, such as the Operations and Departmental Manager apprenticeship, can be equivalent to a higher education or foundation degree. There are even degree and master’s degree level apprenticeships, for example Chartered Manager or Senior Leader qualifications respectively.


4. All apprentices have to spend at least 20 per cent of their time on off-the-job training, but many employers baulk at the idea of losing an employee for what is the equivalent of one day a week.

The solution could be online training, which allows apprentices to learn in bite-sized chunks throughout the week instead of taking days out from the office, spreading their learning and making it more flexible. It also allows apprentices to set their own schedules around everyday tasks. Being on location is an added bonus: not only does it allow apprentices to seek advice from colleagues as needed, it also makes them available for last-minute meetings or unexpected tasks.


5. There’s a common misconception among employers and employees alike that apprenticeships are just for the young. But there’s absolutely no reason why older workers can’t also take part, says Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager for fulfilling work at the Centre for Ageing Better. With an increasing number of older workers in the workforce, upskilling and reskilling is more important than ever.


6. Alternatively, there are a whole host of apprenticeships standards besides the run of the mill courses. The Retailer apprenticeship standard, which saw 2,200 starts in 2016/17, was the most popular, but employers haven’t even scratched the surface. How about an apprenticeship as a dog groomer, or an animal keeper, or even a maritime caterer?

“The Apprenticeship Levy has the potential to play a pivotal role in reversing the trends of skills shortages and low productivity in this country,” said Lady Cobham (Lady Cobham CBE is director general of The 5% Club, an employer-led organisation which encourages employers to create as many “earn and learn” opportunities as possible). “It also has the ability to ensure businesses are able to attract people from all backgrounds, the key to improving social mobility in the UK.”


If you require any further information call us on 01527 571617.

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Ways in Which the Apprenticeship Levy Can Help Your Business…

A recent poll of People Management readers indicated half of businesses were intending to leave some or all of this first round of apprenticeship levy funds unused. In fact, employers have used just 10 per cent of their first-year funds. Unclaimed funds go to the Treasury!

On top of this, many businesses are having problems accessing the funds in a way that is meaningful to their business. The CBI is among organisations calling for the scheme’s reform, and Ofsted has warned against the re-badging of management schemes as employers find ways to regain their investment.

Sounds like the “same old story” in that Government take a good idea and turn it into a bad one BUT is the Apprenticeship Levy such a bad thing?

The apprenticeship levy is an investment that has been proven to give a return on investment. AAT found on average businesses receive a £2,000 boost to their bottom line for every apprentice they hire, even after factoring in wages and training costs (ww.aat.org.uk/apprenticeships/employers/why-great-for-business).

Separately, the Centre for Economic and Business Research found that each apprentice hired delivers on average £10,300 in productivity gains per year (www.cebr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/The-Benefits-of-Apprenticeships-to-Businesses.pdf).

In a recent government survey of employers that have taken on apprentices, 97 per cent (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/659710/Apprenticeships_evaluation_2017_employers.pdf)  said they were good value for money.

The same survey found nine out of ten reported an increase in productivity, and the vast majority said apprentices developed the skills needed by their organisations. There were also some unexpected findings – 80 per cent said they saw an improvement in staff morale, and three quarters said apprentices improved their product or service.

As a result, an overwhelming 96 per cent said they planned to hire more apprentices.

Come back tomorrow to find out how the Levy can work for you..

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TUPE – A Deeper Understanding

Whether you work in a HR department or operations in a Business you may have heard of TUPE. TUPE is the law that protects employees when one business purchases another. As with the commercial elements of the sale, there is also an expectation to manage the relationship with employees through notification and consultation. There is a significant penalty for those employers that do not follow the rules of TUPE.

We have highlighted below some frequently asked questions by employers.


  1. If a TUPE transfer results in redundancy, which employer is responsible for the redundancy process?

It is the transferee employer that is responsible for carrying out the redundancy process and making redundancy payments.

  1. What happens to annual leave accrued when an employee transfer in a TUPE situation?

The balance of annual leave entitlement transfers to the new employer under TUPE. The transferee must allow the employee to take the balance of the leave entitlement before the end of the annual leave year.

  1. What happens to the length of service of employees?

The length of service an employee has accrued with the transferor will continue with the transferee,

  1. Can I change an employee’s terms and conditions for an employee that was TUPE’d 12 months ago?

There is no end date to TUPE. Terms and conditions can only be altered via consultation with the affected employee or their representatives.

  1. When should I notify employees of an intended TUPE?

When you have a definite idea of the likely date of transfer and from this you can draw up a timetable of the steps required to undergo a TUPE.

  1. What are the risks of not carrying out a TUPE consultation?

If there is a failure to inform and consult, a complaint can be made to the Employment Tribunal. If successful, the tribunal can award whatever compensation it considers just and equitable having regard to the seriousness of the employer’s failure up to a maximum of 13 weeks pay per affected employee.

  1. Who would be eligible to pay the tribunal if an award was given?

Information and consultation failures can result in joint and several liability between the outgoing and incoming employers, although the contract governing the transfer cab cater for apportionment of liability here.

  1. What will happen to the personal records of employees?

All employee records will be passed to the transferee in line with General Data Protection Regulations.

  1. What will happen to employees on maternity leave during the transfer?

The transferor should contact the individual on maternity leave and inform them of the intended change. If possible, the employee should be invited in for consultation. The information for the individual should be passed to the transferee for them to consult with the individual regarding the process for change.

  1. What will happen to employee on long term sick leave during the transfer?

Employees on long term sick should be contacted regarding the intended change and consulted if possible, in the same way as all other employees.

  1. What will happen to any ongoing disciplinary or grievance proceedings?

These will continue as normal and may be continued by the new owner.

  1. What will happen to my pay and other benefits?

All terms and conditions will remain the same as previously.

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Is Clocking in Coming Back?

In the UK, employers only currently required to keep adequate records to show that employees are not working in excess of 48 hours a week and that the rules on night working are complied with under regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998. A specific recording system is not needed, and employers can use records which are kept for other purposes, such as payroll, to monitor this. Additionally, there is no explicit obligation on employers to record daily and weekly rest periods.

However, the obligation placed on employers could be about to change. A decision handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), in response to a Spanish Trade Union led litigation, stated that employers must now have adequate systems in place to measure the exact number of hours worked by staff.

There are several industries which ‘clocking in’ is a common part of an employee’s everyday routine, especially if there are a number of shifts or hourly paid staff. It can be a useful tool for recording the hours worked for calculating pay or overtime and for health and safety purposes by recording who is present in the building.

Recording worked hours may be more challenging for staff who are salaried, where it is less common to keep records. Although, could applying the same time recording measures in this circumstance be a positive step? In an environment which working through lunch is seen as the norm, recording when employees take their breaks could help to encourage staff to take time away from their desks.

However, the ECJ did highlight that the Working Time Regulation requirements on UK employers are lacking compared to the Working Time Directive. In response, the UK government raised the potential cost implication for employers setting up record systems which would be compliant. Although, with Brexit looming, it is unlikely that the government will take any immediate steps.

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Dress codes – Why do you have to have them?

Dress codes are often used in the workplace and there are many reasons why an employer may have one.

Often an employer will introduce a dress code for health and safety reasons, for example health care workers may not be allowed to wear jewellery for safety reasons when around patients. In the construction industry a dress code is highly important as it will typically require all workers to wear protective clothing such as steel toe boots, reflective vests and full length pants.

In the food industry a dress code may require hair nets and gloves be worn for health reasons.

When a customer walks into your business, the first thing they see is how your staff are dressed. If your staff are dressed casually or an untidy manner, it can form a negative impression and initial impressions last, rightly or wrongly.

If your workplace regularly interacts with customers, such as a restaurant, hotel or retail store, then having a dress code ensures when customers look at your employees collectively, they see uniformity and professionality.

Ensuring all your employees are dressed to a standard promotes the feeling of belonging to a team. Your staff also know when they are at work, they are embodying the business, so are more conscious of how they are behaving whilst in uniform.

Furthermore, while employees can grumble at having to wear a uniform or follow a dress code, they will soon realise the benefits to not having to decide whether or not they are dressed appropriately. A dress code sets out clear expectations of employees, including personal grooming. This eliminates the worry of whether a shirt is going to be deemed inappropriate, as all employees need to do is check the dress code for guidance.

However, people can get dress codes wrong. Remember the case of Nicola Thorp in 2016 who attended work on her first day in smart flat shoes. She was informed that she should be wearing shoes with a 2 to 4 inch heel. When she refused to do this and pointed out that men were not required to do this, she was sent home without pay. This issue went viral and the issue discussed in Parliament after a petition gathered more than 150,000 signatures and was investigated by a Commons Committee.

Therefore, as the ACAS guidance on the matter states “an employer’s dress code must not be discriminatory in respect of the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 for age, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.”

So, remember that a dress code can be a good idea from both the employers and employees’ point of view but there are pitfalls so always take advice when creating one.

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Personal hygiene at work– The most difficult conversation?

Personal hygiene can be one of the most uncomfortable conversations in a workplace. As an employer, it is difficult for you to handle the issue without causing some offence or awkwardness.

However, depending on the employee’s role, bad hygiene can have a negative impact on other workers or clients, not to mention the health and safety implications if you are in the food and drink industry.

You should not avoid the issue though and instead raise it with the employee in a confidential and tactful manner that benefits all parties.  Therefore, no “hints” or oblique remarks.

Dealing with the issue

Arrange a meeting either through their line manager or directly. This must be a private location without other employees present. The employee shouldn’t be told this information by a colleague or anonymously, it could create an uncomfortable atmosphere and the employee may then feel victimised by their colleague(s).

Close-up of washing hands in a sink

Approach with tact and be prepared to be direct but polite

While it is important to be careful with accusations of poor hygiene, the employee may not believe a problem exists and will require direct information. Remember the human brain can “tune out” sights, sounds and smells.

For example, informing the employee that they have ‘stained or damaged’ clothing when attending work and citing your hygiene/grooming policy.

Alternatively, if there have been complaints made about the employee, make them aware without disclosing who had raised them. This will give an understanding of how cleanliness can affect the business without allowing a hostile environment to form between colleagues.

Once the employee has had the opportunity to either explain their circumstances or take what you have said on board, confirm your expectations clearly.

What may first appear as bad hygiene can actually be symptoms of a serious medical condition. You should be conscious that the member of staff may well be suffering from an illness or take medication that causes profuse sweating or difficulty in their washing routine.

If it is established that the employee is suffering with a medical issue, then establish the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that may need to be made to best suit all members of staff. Seek information from the employee’s Doctor or Occupational Health where appropriate.

What if this does not resolve the situation?

As long as there are no discrimination issues, then ultimately, following the correct process and after seeking the relevant advice, you can discipline an employee for breaching expected/satisfactory hygiene and grooming company standards repeatedly.

Preventing the issue

Having a policy within your staff handbook is a good start in outlining the necessary minimum of cleanliness. By setting clear expectations about grooming you will decrease the likelihood that bad hygiene will be present in the workplace.

Consider including this by the dress code section of your documentation, possibly under a category marked as ‘Presentation’, specifying the company’s expectation of personal hygiene.


Have you considered training for yourself and your managers on difficult conversations and how to handle them?

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My Employee has Depression, What do I do?

No employee with mental health issues will experience the same symptoms or require the same treatment. Therefore, there is not a one size fits all approach to managing employees suffering from mental health issues. It is becoming more significant for employers to make practical changes in support of these employees as you would do with an employee with a broken leg or arm. This is not a topic that can be ignored as it is estimated 91 million working days are lost each year due to mental health problems.

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 14.38.47Research in this area shows that the wellness and recovery time of the individual will differ depending on how the Company responds, therefore if you take a pragmatic and supportive approach to making reasonable adjustments the employee is likely to return to work sooner than if you ignore the underlying issues.

You must remember as an Employer you have a legal obligation once aware of any health information to make reasonable adjustments to work when necessary. As well as making reasonable adjustments to the role itself to support the employee, there are further actions an employer can consider:

  • Train and Introduce Mental Health First Aiders
  • Introduce a Mental Health Policy
  • Introduce a Support System Internally or Externally (EAP Scheme)
  • Line Manager Training

As part of such training, it is important to ensure that managers treat mental health illness the same as any physical health illness. As such managers should continue to conduct;

  • Return to work interviews
  • Regular appraisals
  • Provide training and support

Also, as part of any line manager training you will need learn how to have a conversation with the employee, in a way that supports them. We have developed some top tips to help you.

Finally, if you need any further support regarding an employee who is off work due to mental health illness, please get in touch with our team of advisors who can support you through the maze of health considerations in a pragmatic, logical and legally compliant way.

Agility are available by phone on 01527 571617 or email on info@agilityrac.com

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