Author: Thomas Richards

Success under Stress

Recently, I attended a fascinating seminar around the causes, effects and solutions for stress in the workplace; something that affects so many of us around the world in our everyday working lives. This Edinburgh-based session was courtesy of the Business Matters group, hosted by the CMS Law Firm and presented by the captivating speaker, Stephen Turnbull. Read more

Redundancy: A Straightforward Challenge?

Tullis Russell Papermakers Company

In the UK, the importance of handling a redundancy process in a legal and fair manner could not be better illustrated than by looking at the recent events concerning the Tullis Russell Papermakers Company. This Fife based organisation situated in Scotland had long been established as a successful paper manufacturing and printing organisation since it was founded in 1809. Unfortunately, as is so often a risk for organisations, Tullis Russell was not impervious to the recent financial detriment it encountered through the loss of some of their major customers and a negative shift in the European economy in more recent years. It was owing to these major financial losses that the organisation was forced into administration as of April 2015, at which point they were required to make around 374 of their employees redundant.


If this were not bad enough for the organisation and the many people affected by its downturn, further issues arose when it was realised that they had improperly handled their statutory obligation to provide a fair and reasonable redundancy process. Instead of providing employees who were at risk of redundancy with a minimum notice period of 45 days, the company instead only gave one day’s notice to those being made redundant.

Tribunal decision

On this occasion, following a collective worker and union backed decision, the affected employees raised a tribunal claim against the company. It was ultimately held by a Dundee tribunal judge that all of those affected in this poorly handled process were entitled to 8 weeks’ paid compensation, which overall amassed to a total of £1.5m – This came as a cost to the UK taxpayer owing to the fact that the company no longer had the financial capability to compensate this amount.


There are many learnings that can be gained from these events, but most importantly from a business perspective is that of what a fair redundancy process should look like. Gravitate HR therefore recommend the following steps be taken when a redundancy process is likely to arise:

• Follow any existing written redundancy procedure, or in its absence, the ACAS guidelines around redundancy handling
• Check if BIS (The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills) should be notified of the proposed redundancies (which is applicable if 20 or more redundancies are proposed)
• Follow the collective consultation requirements again if there are 20 or more redundancies
• Consider whether employee representatives require to be elected and consulted
• Consult with employees around the business reasons for initiating a redundancy process
• Identify a redundancy pool of employees at risk
• Implement a fair redundancy selection criteria
• Consult with employees to potentially identify measures to avoid or reduce the requirement for redundancy as well as what process may be adopted
• Advise employees of their score and how this was arrived at
• Consider other means of reducing the need to redundancy, such as ‘bumping’ and seek the views of the employee concerning this
• Seeking suitable alternative employment
• Follow a fair and reasonable procedure and include a right of appeal
• Document all of the above

For more information around how to calculate statutory redundancy pay, please see

Seminar – Shared Parental Leave and the Business Case for Supporting Dads at Work

If you would like to learn more about why and how to support your dads at work through policy and practice, then Gravitate HR would like to cordially invite you to attend our Lunch and Learn seminar on Shared Parental Leave and the business case for supporting dads at work this May.

There has been recent coverage in the media of dads not using Shared Parental Leave. Mums don’t want to share their time off and let’s face it why should they? Do we really want dads to take time off work to look after children costing business money?

2016 is Year of the Dad in Scotland which gives us an opportunity to think about how men engage with home life alongside their work, how; home life affects our performance at work, and; will examine the potential benefits not only for children and mothers, but also for the workplace.

Sam Pringle, CEO of Fathers Network Scotland is also Leadership Coach and a founder of Family Friendly Working Scotland. Sam will facilitate the session to share evidence of the positive impact an active dad has on outcomes for families and business.

Please join us to celebrate the difference a great dad can make at home and at work; bust some myths about fatherhood, and explore what you can do in your workplace to make it more productive by being dad friendly.

If this is a subject which interests you and you feel you just can’t quite wait for the seminar, then please feel welcome to read more about the topic by clicking here to read the blog.

Date: Wednesday the 25th of May 2016

Time: 12:30 – 14:00

Location: Gravitate HR, 14 India Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6EZ

Complementary lunch will also be provided. If you have any specific dietary requirements please let us know by emailing

To register for this event, please click here .

Name-Blind CVs: An End to Recruitment Bias?

In October this year, David Cameron announced during his Party Conference Speech that the UK is in need of tackling recruitment bias to support equality and the fight against discrimination during recruitment.

The government has pledged to support a scheme whereby organizations can voluntarily commit to process job applications on a name blind basis, although the Prime Minister is actively encouraging large organizations to sign up. What this would mean is that job applications would no longer contain the names of candidates, and by consequence reduce any unconscious recruitment bias by only showing a candidate’s previous skills and experience.

What spurred on this development?

The government has long been considering how to deal with discrimination and bias in recruitment following research findings that were published in 2009. It was around this time that the government was particularly concerned about racial discrimination towards employees with African and Asian names. A collaboration between the National Centre for Social Research and the Department for Work and Pensions found that candidates who appeared to be white needed to send nine applications before they were invited to interview. Additionally, ethnic minority candidates with the same or similar skills and experience had to send 16 applications before receiving an invitation to interview.

As the government has become increasingly aware of this problem, David Cameron’s recent speech helped to illustrate the severity of this situation. The following were two of the statements he made: “Do you know that in our country today, even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get callbacks for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names?” … “One young black girl had to change her name to Elizabeth before she got any calls to interviews. That, in 21st-century Britain, is disgraceful.”

Where is this happening?

Since the start of this government pledge there have been a number of organizations that have signed up and who between all of them employ 1.8 million people in the UK alone. These organizations, according to a government press release have so far included; The Civil Service, Teach First, HSBC, Deloitte, Virgin Money, KPMG, BBC, NHS, learndirect and local government. Additionally, UCAS, the University and Colleges Admissions Service have also agreed to name blind applications from 2017 onwards.

As more and more organizations sign up to the scheme, it is becoming clearer that this initiative is growing in popularity. It is possible that these changes alone will go on to influence the way in which many businesses throughout the UK handle their recruitment process.

What will the future determine?

Ultimately it will be time that tells us the extent to which organizations recognize this government pledge as being either a positive or negative initiative. An argument which supports the benefit of such a scheme suggests that employers may identify talent which may have not otherwise been identified. Conversely, from a sceptical perspective it may also be the case that despite best efforts in name blinding applications, the eventual interviews will still carry the same unconscious bias problem in the recruitment process.

If you would like to find out more information about this blog please contact Tom at