A no-nonsense guide to GDPR

There’s absolutely no getting away from GDPR at the minute, and with everyone keen to share their take on it, it can be hard to know where to start to ensure that your company complies with the change in legislation. Here, we share our straightforward approach to help you get to grips with what you need to do.

The UK Data Protection Act is set to change. This outdated law was created in the nineties and with the digital age offering new ways of working and how we handle and store data, this will be replaced with the much-needed and up-to-date Data Protection Bill.

The new regulation aims to strengthen the rights of citizens to data privacy. This means that every business, which deals with information on the public or employees, must meet new standards of security and transparency.


So what does this mean?

Every business, regardless of size and sector, almost certainly holds, stores and processes information for both their own staff and the public. In-line with this new law, how you store, manage and process data for anyone will change. Organisations must analyse the data they currently hold and review their consent procedures to ensure they meet the new standards.

And what do I need to do?

The key is to ensure you put a plan in place now. Ensuring you have an effective and compliant strategy prepared, which will save you much hassle (not to mention a hefty fine) in the long-run.


Here is our simple, 11 step guide on what you need to do now.

  1. Audit and retention: An information audit is required to establish what personal information you hold, how you received it and store it and how and who you share it with and how long you hold this information for.
  1. Review privacy notices: Issue privacy notices to those who you store personal data on, advise them of the detail of the data you hold, why you hold it and remind them of their right to withdraw their consent at any time.
  1. Review employment contracts: Ensure your employee contracts and all relevant policies are updated in line with these new changes.
  1. Individuals’ rights: Ensure you have a well defined process in place detailing the right to request deletion of personal data or how data is communicated electronically.
  1. Access to data: Outline how you plan to handle requests for data, including compliance within the new timescales.
  1. Explain your lawful basis for processing personal data: By law, you need to explain why you are holding information.
  1. Obtaining consent: Decide if you need consent to hold and process the personal data you have and if so, ensure you get this consent before 25th May (consent is not always required).
  1. Security measures: Ensure you put proper provisions and procedures in place to secure data such as: password protection, encrypting data, procedures for working at your desk or in an open office environment, homeworking and mobile workers.
  1. Personal data breach: Should a breach of personal data occur, a policy should be in place to detect, report and investigate such issues and ensure the breach is reported within the specified timeframe.
  1. Assigning a data protection officer: Assign a responsible individual within the business the responsibility for ensuring compliance.
  1. Train staff: Ensure you train all staff on compliance and train them on your procedures implemented to avoid data breaches. This will protect the company from hefty fines.


What happens if I don’t comply?

There are many serious implications for the company including reputational damage where your company could be named and shamed for a data breach.

However the most serious of all is the fines that are imposed for a data breach which can be up to 4% of your annual turnover or fines of up to €20 million. 

Where it all went wrong for some…

Whitehead Nursing Home – Staff payroll details and residents’ personal data was able to be accessed from a stolen laptop (FINED £15,000)

Moneysupermarket – Sent a mass e-mail out to individuals who had unsubscribed (FINED £80,000)

TalkTalk Telecom Group – They had an insecure portal and individuals were able to get unauthorised access to personal data (FINED £100,000)

So as you can see there is significant financial risk with not getting to grips with your requirements around GDPR.  This is not the time to bury your head in the sand. If you need some help with getting compliant, get in touch with us here and we will be able to guide you through this.

How well do you know your employees’ holiday entitlement?

Bank holiday season has arrived and with the summer holiday season almost upon us, now is the period when staff will be taking time off and submitting their annual leave requests. Holiday entitlement can leave many employers scratching their heads as they get to grips with who is due what. Here, we get clear on those common holiday queries that cause business owners some confusion.

employees' holiday entitlement

Annual leave entitlement

One of the most common questions we get asked at Consult HR is how to calculate employees’ holiday entitlement as this causes employers lots of confusion.

Full-time workers are allowed 5.6 weeks (28 days) holidays a year. This is the statutory minimum entitlement and therefore legal requirement, which employers must offer as a minimum (employers can give their employees more holidays than this if they wish).

For part-time staff, holiday entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis based on the hours and days they work. Working out exactly how many days this is can be a little tricky.

The employee’s annual leave entitlement should be included in their employment contract which should be issued to them within two months of their start date. To manually work out how many days off a part-time employee is entitled to, multiply the number of days they work each week by 5.6. So, if someone works 3 days a week, their leave entitlement would be 16.8 days off a year (3 days x 5.6). Thankfully, this handy calculator takes the hassle out of it for you.

employees' holiday entitlement

Bank holiday allowance

When it comes to bank holiday entitlement, there are 5 key things to always remember:

  1. Whether or not employees receive bank holiday entitlement is down to the employer. Employees do not have a statutory right to take off work on bank holidays and whether or not employees receive entitlement should be stated in their contract of employment.
  2. Bank holidays can form part of an employee’s total annual leave allowance. Employees can take all bank holidays as paid leave or employers can count bank holidays as additional holiday days. This is at the discretion of the employer, and again, should be included in the employee’s contract.
  3. Employees are not entitled to extra pay for working on a bank holiday, so if your business operates as normal on a bank holiday, employees are not entitled to any additional payments beyond their normal days pay, unless your policy states otherwise.
  4. When it comes to bank holiday entitlement, part-time staff are entitled a pro-rata entitlement according to the hours they work. Some employers think that the part time employee is only entitled to the bank holiday if they are scheduled to work on that day and that is incorrect.
  5. As per the terms of their contract, if it states that an employee is required to work on bank holidays, they cannot refuse to work.

employees' holiday entitlement

Can you refuse holiday requests? 

In summary, yes! It is a common misconception that employees can take annual leave whenever they want. Employers have control over staff’s annual leave as long as they ensure they have the opportunity to use their leave.

employees' holiday entitlement

Managing holidays around your business’ needs

Having a system in place for requesting annual leave is a good idea to enable you to manage staff holidays effectively. Julie Pollock from Consult HR has suggested some key points you should consider putting into your annual leave policy:
  • The process the staff member should follow when they want to request holidays, who they should make the request to, how they make the request and what notice you require
  • If you have closure days that the company close during the year, set these out in your policy
  • State times during the year when staff cannot request holidays, ie peak business periods
  • How you allocate holidays, ie first come, first served basis
  • If you restrict the number of people off on annual leave at any one time, specify this
  • Specify if there are certain times in the year when you want staff to request leave or maximum periods of time that staff can take off at any one time
  • State if staff are allowed to carry holidays over from one year to the next
  • State what happens if staff have overtaken on holidays at the time they leave their employment

If you need some help with a particular employee holiday issue, get in touch here today! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook here for the latest HR news and free advice, and leave your name & email address in the comments section below to sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Are you ready for April’s statutory rates changes?

In just a few weeks, changes to statutory rates will come into effect. So what are these and how can you ensure your company avoids negative publicity for non-compliance? Here, we share the changes you need to know about, plus why 179 companies have been hit with huge fines.

The start of April is when businesses are required by law to adhere to the new statutory pay rates.

The latest list published by the government outlines 179 companies fined for not paying minimum wage to their employees. Global brands such as Wagamama, Marriott Hotels and TGI Friday’s are among the top offenders, while Northern Ireland based businesses Moy Park, Wilson’s Country Limited, QCS Contract Cleaning Ltd and Tayto were also named and shamed. The result of this has seen all 179 companies incur hefty fines, as well as being obliged to compensate workers for their shortfall.


Wagamama is believed to have failed to pay £133,212 to 2630 workers, while TGI Friday’s owed its staff £59,348.

Reasons for underpayments include failing to pay workers for travelling between jobs, not paying overtime and deducting money for uniforms.

As well as being required by law to pay back the shortfall to employees, the named companies face fines of up to 200% of the wages owed.

Julie Pollock from Consult HR said: “Employers should not underestimate the power of the Government in this area and the compliance officers can commence an investigation and remove information from an employer’s premises with no warning. They have also taken to ‘naming and shaming’ those employers found to be in breach exposing them to negative publicity.”

In Wagamama’s case, the breach came about because the company did not provide a uniform: Wagamama’s gave staff T-shirts that they expected to be worn with a black skirt or trousers. However, by not paying for the additional items, the restaurant breached minimum wage regulations.”

Unpaid breaks, requiring staff to arrive early for their shift and unpaid time spent in meetings could all lead to underpayment of wages.

There are also warnings that employers making deductions from staff for the cost of the Christmas party could also fall foul of the law if these deductions lowered employees’ wages to less than the minimum wage.

Moreover, additional payments such as tips and service charges should not count towards wages.

Back in 2017, Argos topped the list for paying below the minimum wage because staff were expected to attend unpaid briefings and undergo lengthy security checks outside working hours.

Primark and Sports Direct were among 260 UK employers who had been named and shamed by the government for failing to pay the national minimum wage and national living wage.

The key here is to ensure that as a business, you are adhering to the new statutory rates.


Confused by what exactly this all means? Don’t panic! We’ve laid it all out for you…

The changes are as follows:

National minimum wage

The hourly rate will increase as follows:

  • From £7.05 to £7.38 for 21-24 year olds
  • From £5.60 to £5.90 for 18-20 year olds
  • From £4.05 to £4.20 for 16-17 year olds
  • From £3.50 to £3.70 for apprentices aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship.

National living wage (for 25 years and over)

The hourly rate will increase from £7.50 to £7.83 for 25s and over.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

The weekly rate of SSP increases from £89.35 to £92.05.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

The weekly rate of SMP increases from £140.98 to £145.18.

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)

The weekly rate of SAP increases from £140.98 to £145.18.

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)

The weekly rate of SPP increases from £140.98 to £145.18.

 Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SShPP)

The weekly rate of SShPP increases from £140.98 to £145.18.

The government takes a ‘no excuse’ approach against companies for failing to pay staff less than minimum wage and ‘ignorance of the law’ will not be an acceptable explanation for non-compliance.

Undertake a review of your working practices and make necessary adjustments to any areas of risk is the advice from Julie Pollock from Consult HR, if you want to avoid penalties and protect your business from reputational damage.

If you need some help with a particular staffing issue, get in touch here today! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook here for the latest HR news and free advice, and leave your name & email address in the comments section below to sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Love is in the air; potential problems with workplace romances

Is love in the air in your workplace? As an employer have you ever thought of the problems associated with workplace romances? Here, we get to the heart of the topic by looking at how to effectively deal with relationships in the office.

A survey conducted by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), revealed that 41 per cent of office workers have experienced a romantic relationship in the workplace. With figures higher than a lot of us probably expected, this topic definitely deserves discussion.

Here, we reveal the potential problems that can arise as the result of workplace romances and how to effectively deal with them.

workplace romances

A ban is a no-no!

While as an employer you may deem it appropriate to have an all-out ban on personal relationships at work, this is both unrealistic and a breach of the Human Rights Act. A blanket ban on romantic relationships is likely to aggravate employees, fuel the relationship and create friction between the employer and employee, not to mention the potential law suits that could arise.

workplace romances

Make it clear

Having a clear policy will ensure that everyone knows exactly where they stand. In the policy, define what you deem as “inappropriate conduct” in the workplace, which could lead to disciplinary action. It is also worth outlining a broad ban on “intimate behaviour” while at work, such as kissing, holding hands or touching. The employer is also within their rights to ensure couples keep communications at work, strictly professional, which extends to electronic communications. For example, sending and receiving emails, should not focus on subjects which are not related to work. Employees should be made aware that management have the right to monitor such exchanges and intervene if necessary.

workplace romances

Talk is cheap

Often the biggest worry about workplace romances is the exchange of information between the two parties. Employees should be made aware that it is a breach of their contract to share confidential information. This extends to discussing the proceedings in meetings, staff changes or other commercially sensitive information. Again, this is an area which can be outlined in the company’s policy, highlighting that discussing confidential matters with a partner can lead to disciplinary action.


When love becomes heartbreak

The breakup of a work relationship often has the biggest impact on the workplace. When relationships turn sour, this can lead to a feeling of unease between the two individuals involved with the impact being felt by the rest of the workplace. And of course, not forgetting the headache it can give a manager! In order to deal with this effectively, having a rule in your policy, which states that employees should inform management if there is a change in their personal relationship, can help with this. Notifying employers gives management time to address any potential problems early, as well as reminding employees of what is expected of them in the workplace, in light of the separation.

Workplace romances

Refrain from playing cupid

It’s worth bearing in mind, that sexual harassment can take a wide variety of forms. In the employment tribunal case of Craddock v Fontoura t/a Countyclean, the business owner’s behaviour was deemed as sexual harassment after he frequently suggested that a male and female colleague should form a relationship. Despite honourable intentions, the employer’s need to play cupid between staff was unwelcome.

workplace romances

In summary, office romances aren’t always hearts and flowers. Employees are entitled to a private life, and employers should only interfere when this has a direct impact on the workplace. Consult HR can help you with your staffing problems. If you need help with this, contact one of our HR experts on 078 5808 9006 or get in touch here.

Starbucks Dyslexia Discrimination Case

Starbucks Found To Have Discriminated Against An Employee Who Was Dyslexic

Dyslexia is said to affect around 10% of people within the UK, but the problem for employers is that it is often seen as an invisible disability and is not detected until something goes wrong.

Recently a Starbucks employee with Dyslexia won a disability discrimination case against her employer, after being wrongly accused of falsifying documents.

An employment tribunal found that Meseret Kumulchew had faced discrimination after making mistakes due to her difficulty with reading and writing. She was accused of purposely falsifying documents after she had mistakenly entered the wrong water and fridge temperatures.

The tribunal found that Starbucks had committed several wrong doings

  • Discrimination – They discriminated against the employee because of her dyslexia.
  • Victimisation – They victimised the employee by demoting her and making her feel unable to do the job due to her disability.
  • Reasonable Adjustments – Starbucks also failed to make reasonable adjustments to help accommodate Meseret Kumulchew’s disability.

The Disability Discrimination Act covers dyslexia; therefore all workplaces need to comply with it. There are a number of steps employers should take to identify and support the needs of a dyslexic employee:


  • Understand what it is

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. Although it is more than just a literacy problem – it can also cause problems with short-term memory and with tasks that involve using sequences.  It is a condition that cannot be cured, but the difficulties it causes can be alleviated with appropriate intervention and specialist support.


  • Treat each dyslexic person as an individual, everyone is different.

Dyslexia will affect people in different ways. It is important that employers are aware of the nature of individual’s dyslexia and how it affects them in the work place. This will try to determine and help provide the appropriate support. Failure to do so will mean an employee will not be able to demonstrate their full potential in the work place.

  • Adapt your recruitment procedures. 
Completing forms is something that is feared by many dyslexic people. Therefore changes to size, style and layout of text will help with this. If an applicant reveals they are dyslexic, it is important to remember that dyslexia affects everyone differently. Do not assume you know the way it might affect their performance within a particular role. If psychometric testing or other selection processes are required, a dyslexic person may need extra time or other methods of writing or recording information.


  •  Consider training needs

Many dyslexic employees’ fail to progress within their careers because they are hesitant to undergo any further training, fearing that their difficulties will be exposed to others. Tasks such as note taking or reading training material can be a frightening process for dyslexic people, especially when they have to work quickly in front of others. It is important that trainers and line managers are aware of these issues and discuss any support options with the employee concerned. This may include the use of recording equipment during presentations.


  • Making reasonable adjustments

Once you identify that an employee has a disability, you as he employer has a legal requirement under the Disability Discrimination Act to consider reasonable adjustments.  As dyslexia will affect people differently it is important that you know how it affects each individual within your work place and make reasonable adjustments to help accommodate them. The British Dyslexia Association has determined the most appropriate adjustments that can be made for particular individuals according to their needs, wither it is written or verbal communications or time and work planning. These can be viewed in the link below.



Employers found to have discriminated against an employee on the grounds of disability could face huge financial penalties, the compensation awards for discrimination cases are unlimited.


Contact Consult HR today if you need assistance with managing a process involving employees suffering from a disability.