Wednesday, 8 June 2016

How to Send Out an Email which Makes an Impact

I sent out an email to LinkedIn contacts I had kind of lost touch with last week. It's caused quite a stir.

It goes like this :

"Exactly two years ago today I became a father for the first time in my life. Yes good things happen to those who wait…!

The days and the sleepless nights have shot by so quickly its gone by in a bit of a blur. I even feel like to others it may have resembled some kind of Norman Wisdom movie playing on fast forward.

So let me hit the pause button and tell you about five other things that have happened to me in the past 2 years :
 
  1. I completed an Ironman last year in Vichy, France to mark my 50 years on planet earth.
  2. I’m still at the helm of Legal-Island (no coups!) after almost twenty years.
  3. My friends tell me I have the ability to see the strength in people and I have a passion for developing them.  (Not just my employees but individuals I come across day to day) My plan is to keep on doing this.
  4. I am still looking for new ways of learning  (hence my new eLearning endeavour and my current Russian lessons via skype)
  5. I firmly believe training carried out correctly can open people’s minds and change habits making the Island of Ireland a better place in which to live.

Most of the above I couldn’t have done on my own but had to rely on a lot of people like you to help me. Many of these people I had known for a long time but others I bumped into recently and met only fortuitously.

At one time we connected for a reason.  So why not send me your top five things or simply get back in touch? Who knows where it could lead…

Barry Phillips, Chairman
Legal-Island"



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Why not leave your five below?

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Morrison case – Vicarious Liability 3 things every employer should know and do

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Morrisons were vicariously liable for the behaviour of one of its employees which included an unprovoked racist assault on a customer.

The ruling will be difficult to comprehend by many particularly as the assailant was not acting on any instructions from his employer and indeed appeared to be on, what might be referred to as “a complete frolic of his own”.

The notion of vicarious liability is not easily grasped by employers. Nor does it always appear to produce fair outcomes. With some justification employers (particularly those unrepresented) can be heard to plea in Employment Tribunals that certain acts of their employees were below their field of vision and not the type of behaviour that you would ordinarily expect. Employers might be heard to protest:

“how can I be expected to watch over the actions of all my staff every working hour of every working day to make sure they don’t fall foul of equality legislation or indeed the criminal law?. I’ve work to do and a business to run”

But the concept of vicarious liability is not a new one. As the Supreme Court noted in yesterday’s judgment it began to develop at the beginning of last century.

No doubt many people will be analysing yesterday’s judgement to see what more employers need to do now to protect themselves against this sort of liability. But the truth is that the answer is already clear. It’s just a pity and also quite surprising that employers don’t follow the advice that many employment lawyers would offer them.

The employer needs to do 3 things :

1. Have an up-to-date equality and diversity policy
2. Have an up-to-date equality and diversity policy that is actively implemented throughout the organisation
3. Do regular (preferably annual) equality and diversity training for all staff.

These actions will not prevent every example of the type of behaviour under scrutiny by the Supreme Court yesterday but they provide the best chance for an employer to root out and deal with employees who are likely to be behave like this. They also provide the best opportunity for an employer to prove it had done all it reasonably could be expected to do to make sure an incident similar to the one in this case never took place.

Vicarious liability is not an absolute concept but it does require all employers to be proactive.

Mr A M Mohamud (in substitution for Mr A Mohamud (deceased)) v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc [2016] UKSC 11

Barry Phillips is a former practising barrister and now chairman of Legal-Island a leading compliance company Legal-Island



Thursday, 11 February 2016

Why its More Aw Shucks thank Big Bucks for Starbucks this week

This week Starbucks is in the news but for all the wrong reasons. Defeats in Tribunals never make good news for employers particularly when delicate issues relating to disability discrimination are at stake.
HR commonly refer to employment issues as “internal matters” but they can go “external” very quickly.
The Starbucks case was just one of many queuing up to be heard in a London employment tribunal last year. This week, even before a decision had been taken on compensation levels, the case was all over social media and even made it to the BBC’s 9 O'clock News last night.
The complainant said Starbucks treated her like she was a fraud because of how she handled the paperwork and that she considered taking her own life as a result of her treatment. Generally, employment tribunals don't deliver huge awards -certainly not in comparison to the United States where even labour law judges are known to adjourn with a bag of noughts to calculate appropriate levels of compensation.
Starbucks may be worried a sizeable award is on its way now that the case has hit the headlines but the real damage has been done to its reputation which its PR arm will no doubt be working hard to  correct over the coming months.
They could start by letting it be known that each and every one of its staff is now doing equality and diversity training. This sort of training is something  it should have been doing for a long time already.  
In the old days of employment training (now called Learning and Development) for an employer to train all of its staff on a single issue was often nothing short of a logistical nightmare. This was particularly the case where an employer, like Starbucks,  had employees dispersed over a multitude of sites or with many workers on assignments in other parts of the country or even abroad. Nowadays, with the advent of online learning such training can be done very easily. Starbucks I’m sure, could provide each outlet (if they haven’t already done so) with a PC, laptop or tablet on which all staff could periodically complete online training – perhaps during a quiet period of the day in the corner of the cafĂ© no doubt with a fine latte in-hand.
But this welcome development in online learning has proved to be something of a double edged sword for employers. For Tribunals now know that such training is easy to do and therefore they expect to see evidence that it has been done. In pre-Internet days Tribunals were given to being far more flexible on the matter.

Of course, every employer should be doing equality and diversity training. Not just to keep themselves legally tight but because it should lead to a fairer workplace for all.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

E-Learning Child Protection and Equality and Diversity

It's all happening at Legal-Island at the moment. We've spent the last few weeks furiously planning the year to come and finally as we enter February we're ready to put it all into action.

Early this year we'll be launching our new Hub which will completely change the way we deliver our information. We're also developing our e-learning services too.Over 1,000 organisations have now used our e-learning benefiting more than 27,000 employees. Not bad considering we launched our first e-learning module less than 2 years ago.

Our e-learning modules for Child Protection and Equality and Diversity have been getting rave reviews.

Legal-Island let's go! It's all to play for!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Of Being on Top of the World

We did our annual pilgrimage up Slieve Donard on Wednesday of this week to see the place where Papa proposed to Mama on the top of a mountain almost three years ago in a howling gale and in the dead of night.
It was a beautiful autumnal day. The flowers and fauna on the walk up to the summit added even more colour to a day exploding with beauty and vitality.
Alicia was wonderful. She seemed to enjoy her transport to the top on a rucksack strapped to Papa's back. She never cried once but burst into song on a good number of occasions and happily popped into her mouth the wild blackberries that Papa passed up to her en route.
On days like this its easy to feel on top of the world in a life that is difficult to top too..

Legal-Island Full Out Flat Out

It’s all about everything at the moment at Legal-Island. We’re just flat out wherever you look. Our portal people are furiously at it. Our email service team have barely time to look away from their screens and our events team well it’s their busiest time of the year; “The silly season” as it is sometime referred to when we attempt to do five of our biggest events in as many weeks when hundreds of our customers come through the conference doors for what we think is the best HR show in town.

Our E-learning team is chomping at the bit too. We were much cheered this morning by surveying findings that indicate compliance training online is up this year and by a considerable percentage too. This should not come as a surprise for there are many advantages to e-learning over conventional classroom based training. These include ease of administration, cost and user convenience to name but a few.


Our own modules cover child protection or safeguarding for Northern Ireland and equality and diversity in the work place. We’ve modules for other disciplines due out soon.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Of One Extraordinary day in the life of a retired Ironman

 An occasion rarely comes that big that the day before you just know you’ll always remember it. Into my bank of memories along with births, weddings, landmark birthdays, graduations and funerals I’ve had to add my first (and last) Ironman.

Ironman day started for me at 4.30a.m. for I had to eat at least two hours before the start of the race which was a good hour’s drive from where we were staying in France.
The race didn’t start well for me. I found myself just where I didn’t want to be for the swim : at the front and in the middle. I spent the first 30 minutes or so avoiding slaps, kicks and generally trying not to drown. But the swim achieved its objective which was to beat the disqualification time and make it to the bike. This was waiting for me in transition meticulously prepped to get me around the next 112 miles. It had to carry me and enough gear for me to eat and drink over the next 7 hours and cope with any Plan Bs I might need to activate in the event of something going wrong.

But nothing did go wrong. There were no crashes, no punctures just an awful lot of pedaling and sweat in the midday heat that hit and stayed at 35 degrees for far too long.

The 26.2 miles run was tough. But I knew it would be. What was uppermost in my mind was just how much risk I should take. I felt good in the run but I was passing people who were collapsing and getting carted off to hospital. My wife and 1 year old daughter were waiting nervously at the finish line for me. Why take unnecessary risk by running further than you have to when you don’t know exactly how much you have left in the tank? In the event I ran a bit and walked a bit and approached the finish at about 10.30p.m.

An Ironman finish is an extraordinary thing. You enter the purpose build stadium which belongs to you and no-one else. There you see hundreds of people all cheering for you, trying to high five you or just enjoying making you feel special.

As I crossed the finish the finish the commentator said “Congratulations! Barry Phillips you are an Ironman!

I thought to myself “Thanks I’m a retired one to” and went to collect my medal and a long cool drink.