Unpaid Shift Work

Currently a company can invite prospective employees to come in and complete ‘trial shifts’ in order to assess their competency, with the intention that if all goes well a job will be available at the end of this shift.

However, there have been growing complaints that employers are using trial shifts as a way of gaining free labour and that some companies are taking advantage of those who are looking to find their way into employment.

On Friday a private members bill which is looking to make unpaid trials illegal will get its second parliamentary reading. This bill is looking to introduce minimum wage requirements for anyone who participates in these trials as well as putting more responsibility on the employee to advertise to all participants clearly:

  • How long the trial period will last for
  • The job description and qualities needed for the role to be trialled
  • How many jobs are available at the end of the trial period

The bill is also looking to make employers provide feedback to participants after the trial period and informing participants of what arrangements will be made for notifying them of the outcome of the trial.

There is current legislation in place to prevent ‘excessively long’ trial shifts but MPs argue that this legislation is not working.

This is an interesting development as many small businesses rely on trial shifts to check the competencies of prospective employees, due to their worries about hiring the wrong person.  Therefore there is likely to be some debate between those trying to introduce the bill and organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses who will look to defend small businesses’ rights to offer trial shifts as part of their recruitment process.

To talk to us about unpaid shifts, worker statuses or any other employment query please contact our HR Consultancy Team.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt) – Risk Services Adviser

Loss of face, is it that important?

With the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018 you could be forgiven for thinking the world was on the brink of another Y2K scenario.  It was that time around the millennium when everyone thought that all the computers would implode come the stroke of midnight in the year 1999 as we headed into the new century.  What in fact did happen was not much really and everyone soon forgot what they were worried about and just got on with their lives.  Now you could say the same thing about the GDPR and the impending fines that could be about to be handed out or you could argue that a select few multinationals will be singled out and made an example of but it won’t go much further than that.

Companies may be more concerned about the threat to their reputation.  Should a company suffer a Data Breach they may be able to find out the problem and put a stop to it, however by this time the main damage will be done i.e. the loss of trust from their own customers.  As with any loss or interruption to a business, should you be able to rectify the problem, it could all be for nothing when your customers have deserted you and gone elsewhere.  When it comes to a Data Breach it is just as important to deal with customers and the public in keeping them informed of the situation and how it is being rectified.

Most insurers who offer Cyber and Data polices will be partnered with a Public Relation (PR) firm who can help to quickly provide the right advice on how to respond to the public.  This could include breach coaching and advice on what to tell your customers.  Some policies will also offer credit checks and ongoing monitoring for customers who have been affected by the lost data.  All these things can help to build trust back up with your customers and the public; to the extent that once the breach is fixed they are happy to continue to work with you.

If you would like to find out more about Cyber and Data cover and how it can protect your business, please contact me or a member of our team on 0114 243 9914 or 01302 341 344.

By Peter Ryder ACIIChartered Insurance Broker – Account Executive


Training and Supervision – How much is enough?

You may be aware that another company has been fined this week because an employee was injured using a piece of work equipment they weren’t adequately trained to use. The employee, who was employed as a driver and had never used this type of equipment before, was shown what to do once and then left to his own devices. The result was the amputation of a few fingers for the employee and a £120,000 fine for the company.

So what should the company have done differently?

Everyone needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Clear instructions and information and adequate training must be provided. The information and training should be in a form that is easy to understand. It is important that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them. 

Some staff have particular training needs, for example:

  • new recruits;
  • people changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities;
  • young employees, who are particularly vulnerable to accidents.

Employers must ‘ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for the purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using work equipment, and risks which such use may entail and the precautions to be taken.’ (PUWER regulation 9).

Requirements for adequate training will vary according to:

  • the job or activity;
  • the existing competence of workers;
  • the circumstances of the work (e.g. degree of supervision);
  • the work equipment being used, amongst other things.

Special attention should be paid to the training of young people because of their relative immaturity and lack of familiarity with the working environment. Risk assessments should consider carefully the training needs of young people to determine whether they should undertake certain work activities.

Ok so training has been provided, now what?

Training alone is not enough. As a company you have a duty to provide an adequate and appropriate level of supervision for your employees.

New, inexperienced or young people, as well as those whose first language is not English, are likely to need more supervision than others. It is important employees know how to raise concerns and supervisors are familiar with the possible problems due to unfamiliarity, inexperience and communication difficulties. Supervisors need to make sure the control measures to protect against risk are being properly used, maintained and monitored.

Effective supervision can help you monitor the effectiveness of the training that people have received, and whether employees have the necessary capacity and competence to do the job.

Effective training and supervision combined should help prevent unnecessary accidents.

For further information or advice in any area of health and safety management, please contact our team on 01302 341 344.

By Rachel Cuff CMIOSHRisk Consultant

How secure is your electronic marketplace?

Your computer system may be secure, but how much do you rely on a Third Party customer or a supplier’s platform for your orders to be placed and then passed to you for processing?

Businesses are dealing more and more with e-commerce companies that place orders on behalf of their customers for the purchase of a whole range of products and services. These orders are placed via the website platform of the e-commerce company and then sent to the individual businesses to fulfil these orders and for them to deliver direct. The suppliers are then paid by the e-commerce company for the orders that have been fulfilled.

What happens to the orders and revenue of the suppliers if the e-commerce company’s website platform is subject to cyber-attack and as a result they don’t receive any orders?

Here’s an example: you sell your craft goods on Etsy.com.  Etsy suffer a cyber-attack and subsequently has significant down-time, which in turn stops you from receiving orders.

Although there has been a reduction in turnover, this is not covered by the Business Interruption section of a standard Commercial Policy, as there has not been a loss caused by an insured peril e.g. Fire or Theft

This loss would need to be covered as an extension to a Cyber Liability Policy. You would be covered by a Cyber Liability Policy as long as the e-commerce company’s website is operated for your benefit and there is a contract in place between you and the e-commerce company.

Does this sound like a problem that your business may encounter?

If you want to discuss this in more detail or need some further information, please contact me or a member of our team on 01302 341 344.

By Martin SingletonDip CIIAccount Executive


Increase to National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

From 1st April 2018 all employers will need to comply with the new National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates.

The government is committed to increasing the National Living Wage annually with plans to further increase the new wage to £9 per an hour by 2020. This rise will effectively require 6% year-on-year increases.

The new rates as of April 2018 will be:

Year 25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice
April 2017 (current) £7.50 £7.05 £5.60 £4.05 £3.50
April 2018 £7.83 £7.38 £5.90 £4.20 £3.70


The apprentice rate relates to all employees who are in the first year of their apprenticeship and any apprentice less than 19 years of age.

If you would like to speak to the employment team regarding pay or any other employment issue please contact us on 01302 341 344.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt)Risk Services Adviser

Here today, gone tomorrow?

The quality and security of insurers is a hot topic currently in the insurance world. In recent years we have seen both Gable and Enterprise leave the UK market leaving a trail of destruction behind them.

When an insurer goes into liquidation not only do policy holders potentially lose the policy which they’ve paid for and have to incept cover elsewhere, they risk not having claims paid which are ongoing.

In the UK however, policyholders may be able to gain assistance from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

What is the FSCS?

The FSCS is a pool of money, provided by financial institutions, including insurers, designed to compensate certain customers who lose out due to the collapse of a financial services company.   For customers hit by the demise of an insurance company, it refunds the full amount paid in premiums to enable the customer to go out and find cover elsewhere.

Anyone who has a claim that is being dealt with at the time of a company’s collapse is also covered by the FSCS.

This can take time however and not every policyholder is eligible for compensation. For example claims to the FSCS which involve UK compulsory insurance (such as your motor insurance or employers liability), will be covered and generally  claims made by individuals are also eligible. However, other types of insurance, such as cover relating to businesses, are subject to stricter rules, with only smaller businesses being eligible to claim.

At ProAktive we try and make things simple and only deal with insurers who meet our minimum security requirements.  We regularly monitor insurers’ security on your behalf and only recommend insurers who we feel are financially secure.

If you’d like some advice on insurers solvency or would like to discuss your insurance in more detail, please contact ProAktive on 01302 341344.

By Laura Scott ACII – Commercial Account Handler

Total losses – Mind the GAP!

Picture the scene – you’ve bought yourself a brand new, top of the range car on hire purchase. While everything might be rosy to start with, imagine the worst happens – after the first year, your car is stolen or written off. Although distressing, at least you have your vehicle insurance to pay for the damage. But what’s the situation with claims payouts with your hire purchase vehicle? 

You car insurance will only pay out the market value of the vehicle i.e. the value of the vehicle at the time of the incident. With the purpose of insurance to put you back in the same financial position as you were before the incident, this can be expected – the purpose is for you to, in essence, replace your car with one of the same condition.

However, with the growing use of lease, hire purchase and finance in the motor market, this poses a significant problem. With the payout from a claim only being the value of the vehicle at the time, this can leave a shortfall between the claim payout (which would be paid to the vehicle hirer) and the total left outstanding, potentially leaving you with a significant chunk to find from your own pockets for a vehicle you can no longer use. This means you might still have to make payments for a scrapped vehicle!

This gap in value can be filled with the aptly-named GAP Insurance. The intention of this policy is to top up your claim payment to cover the shortfall between the value of the vehicle as new and the value of the vehicle at the time of the incident, therefore preventing you from needing to fill the gap from your own funds.

Cover can be arranged from as short as 12 months to as long as 48 months – essentially covering the length of your vehicle lease. GAP Insurance isn’t limited to leased vehicles or vehicles on finance either – if you bought your vehicle outright, GAP Insurance would provide you with top-up funds to purchase a new car rather than one of the same age.

While you will most likely be offered this cover at the dealer you bought or leased your vehicle from, ProAktive are able to offer a competitively priced ‘Return to Invoice’ policy to fill the gap between the claim payment and the exact price paid for the vehicle. To speak to us about this please call us on either 01302 341 344 or 0114 243 9914.

By Sam Harby Dip CIICommercial Account Handler


Employment Tribunal Decisions Update

1) Successful outcome for Unison’s challenge of Employment tribunal fees

The decision to quash tribunal fees, which were first introduced by the Government in 2013, is deemed to be one of the most important court decisions of 2017.

The Supreme Court judges voted unanimously that the employment tribunal fees system was unlawful and that the legislation introducing them should be quashed.

The Government must now repay the £32 million of fees collected under the legislation, to those affected individuals.

2) Enhancing Shared Parental Pay

In the Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd case, the claimant complained that since his employer offered enhanced maternity pay, he should be entitled to enhanced pay as well, under shared parental leave.

The employment tribunal upheld his claim, however this decision is likely to be appealed by his employer. Future updates to follow.

3) Long term sickness absence and disability 

In the case of O’Brien v Bolton St Catherine’s Academy, Ms O’Brien was dismissed by her employer following a period of long-term sickness absence.

After presenting her employer with medical evidence indicating that she was fit to return to work at an internal appeal meeting, the appeal panel rejected this evidence and upheld the decision to dismiss.

The court found that it was unreasonable for the school to disregard the medical evidence without a further medical assessment.

2018 Decisions to come

1) The ongoing debate about ‘Employment Status’

In 2017, the court ruled against Uber, in connection with the ‘status of their workers’ – finding that they were not self-employed but ‘workers’ (granting them access to minimum wage and holiday pay amongst other benefits). This was a landmark ruling.

This year, Uber plans to appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court, and we all watch this decision as the final outcome will impact many firms operating in the gig economy. There is also a similar case involving Pimlico Plumbers which is due to begin in February 2018.

2) Minimum Wage for On-Call Night Workers

Mr Shannon is currently appealing the decision made during a tribunal, which stated that Mr Shannon was only entitled to receive minimum wage for the actual hours he worked on night call, due to an exception in the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015. The exception states that where salaried workers are provided with suitable facilities for sleeping at or near work, only time spent when the worker is awake for the purpose of working, should count towards salaried hours.


There will be plenty of case law over 2018 which will impact the world of employment law and with the introduction of GDPR, which comes into force on May 25th 2018, this is set to be a year that may challenge HR functions across the country!

To discuss any HR issues with our team, please call us on 01302 341 344.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt)Risk Services Adviser

Are you putting your shift workers at risk?

We live in demanding times. Your customers are increasingly used to next day delivery or short lead times, and lets be honest – they don’t care about how you get your service to them. They just want it now! This has increasingly resulted in employers implementing shift systems to increase capacity. This is nothing new, however it is important that you, as a business, understand that these workers are at higher risk than your normal 9-5 worker.

Why are shift workers at risk?

  • Disruption of the internal body clock (circadian rhythms)

Humans have an internal body clock located in the brain which sets our daily cycle. It is responsible for waking us up in the mornings and making us sleepy at night. It also explains why we eat at similar times each day.

Our internal body clock can change gradually, but for most people it is resistant to the abrupt changes in the sleep/wake cycle that are required by shift-work schedules.

  • Sleep disturbance/loss 

Insufficient and disturbed sleep increases the risk of errors and accidents. When working shifts sleeping during the day is often necessary and this usually results in lighter and shorter periods of sleep, which is often more disturbed because of warmer temperatures and daytime noise at home.

  • Errors, productivity and accidents

Many researchers believe it’s no coincidence that major disasters, from Chernobyl and Three Mile Island to Bhopal and the Exxon Valdez, all occurred at night; losing even one hour’s sleep when clocks change to summer time results in 20% more traffic accidents.

  • Health effects

Evidence suggests that shift work increases the risk of many serious health conditions. Studies have associated night shifts with increased incidence of type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression and memory problems.

In recognition of the particular risks to night workers, the Working Time Regulations include a right for these workers to receive free health assessments.

What can I do?

If your employees work shifts you should assess any risks that arise from their working pattern and take action to tackle any problems you identify.

Some control measures to consider are:

  • blackout blinds in bedrooms to reduce disruption to the production of melatonin, the hormone which regulates the body clock.
  • design shift patterns around a fast forward rotating system (e.g. two morning, two evening and two night shifts followed by two days off) to help prevent body clock disruption.
  • better health screening for shift workers to help identify problems before they become serious.
  • provide night shift workers with small, easily digestible portions of high protein, low fat, low sugar meals. Making maintaining a healthy diet less difficult may reduce the risk of obesity.

If you need any advice about your shift work please contact ProAktive on 01302 341 344 or 0114 243 9914.

By Rachel Cuff – Risk Consultant


We are sad to announce the death of Tony Smith on Tuesday 9th January.

Tony joined Barry Atkinson in 1975 to form Atkinson Smith Ltd and from this acorn the business grew to become the ProAktive we all know today.

Having worked in the business for over 20 years, Tony retired in the late 1990’s having served as President of the Insurance Institute of Doncaster. A keen golfer and member of Wheatley Golf Club, Tony was a well known and much liked figure in the Doncaster business world.

Our thoughts are with  Tony’s family.


Ian Laycock, Group CEO.