May 2019 - MLP Law

Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 – Day 3


Mental health services in the UK are overstretched, have long waiting times and, in some regions, lack specialist services. Despite this, public spending is focused almost entirely on coping with crisis, with only a significant investment in prevention. Mental health research receives only 5.5% (£115 million) of total UK health research spending.

Mental health problems constitute the largest single source of world economic burden, with an estimated global cost of £1.6 trillion – greater than cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes on their own.

In the UK, the estimated costs of mental health problems are £70-100 billion each year and account for 4.5% of GDP.

Here is a link to the Mental Health Foundation’s page, where you can learn more about facts related to the MHAW, the cost of mental health problems, physical health and mental health & many more:


Mental Health Awareness Week – How can you promote well-being in your workplace?

As an employer, mental health and well-being should be high on your agenda. However, dealing with mental health issues at work can be difficult. A recent study carried out by Mental Health First Aid England found that only 14% of 2,000 workers said they felt comfortable discussing their mental health worries at work, compared to 42% of workers who felt able to talk about physical conditions. Clearly, many employees feel that there is still a stigma attached to discussing their issues with their employer, and many may not even be aware that their mental health is suffering.

ACAS guidance on mental health provides employers with ideas on how to develop action plans to change attitudes, create a mental health policy, train managers and ensure they champion awareness, and tackle work-related causes of mental health problems.

How can you make sure you comply with your responsibilities?

Given that 1 in 4 British workers are affected by conditions like anxiety, depression and stress every year, looking after the mental health of your employees makes business sense. Tackling stigma can make a real difference to sickness absence rates, productivity and retention.

Key to employees feeling comfortable and able to discuss their mental health is to encourage an open dialogue in your workplace surrounding mental health. This could be done in various way such as hosting awareness initiatives, having a workplace mental health first aider or simply encouraging members of staff in management positions to be open about how they are feeling.

Training is also vital so that managers feel able to address potential issues and recognise symptoms.

Failing to recognise when an employee is suffering when it would be reasonable to expect an employer to do so may expose a business to claims, including disability discrimination claims if the employee has a long-term mental health condition and the business fails to make adjustments to workload or performance processes.

The charity Mind has a range of tools to tackle stress in the workplace. These include creating a Stress Awareness Space where people can feel safe talking about stress, running training courses, encouraging exercise, and organising mindfulness sessions.

If you have concerns that a member of staff may be suffering in silence, or would like to have a comprehensive mental health code of practice but don’t know where to begin, please contact our employment team on 0161 926 9969 or visit our employment law specific twitter account at @HRGuruUK.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 – Day 5

During the course of this week, in support of Mental Health Awareness Week, we have been concentrating on the impact mental health issues can have on people’s lives. People can struggle with their mental health in many different ways and it can be difficult to know how to help if someone we know is struggling.

We have attached a link to Mind’s website, which includes useful information on how to help and support someone with a mental illness:

We have also attached a link which includes loads of great tips for good mental wellbeing, which can be used by absolutely anyone:


#HELP #BeBodyKind #MHAW2019 #mentalhealthawerenessweek #teammlp #TogetherWeCan

Should you pay staff for working before or after their contractual hours?

Employees are obliged to work the hours set out in their employment contract. However, many employees are also required to work additional hours in order to ensure the proper performance of their duties and many others may also be specifically required (or able) to work overtime.

In both scenarios, the employment contract should be clear about what is expected and how the employee will be paid for any additional hours worked. If overtime is a regular feature of the business, a clear policy on how overtime is requested, authorised and recorded, and how overtime pay is calculated, should be put in place.

Authorised overtime may be fairly simple to deal with as a business, as employees will be paid for the additional time they work. However, situations in which employees are expected to arrive at work early or stay late to complete duties which they are unable to complete within their contracted hours may not be quite so straightforward.

Time at work is determined as when the employee is “at their employer’s disposal”. This includes any time that the employee is at work or needs to be available for work and may even include time spent travelling in connection with work (for example, travelling to a training course or between work locations).

This means that, if an employee is expected to turn up fifteen minutes before the start of their shift in order to set up their work station for the day ahead, they may be entitled to be paid for this time (subject to what their employment contract states) and any failure to pay them for this time may bring their average hourly pay under the national minimum wage for the hours spent at work.

The Employment Tribunal has recently heard the case of Fitz v Holland and Barrett, a case which was brought by an employee who had to cover for their store manager by opening and closing the store. The employee’s contract did not say that he was expected to work overtime, and had no mention of being paid for working additional hours. The employee successfully claimed that he had suffered unlawful deductions from wages and was awarded £1,019 in lost wages to cover the additional time it had taken him to open and close the store.

The above case shows that if you expect your staff to work additional hours, you should expressly set this out in their contracts, with explicit details of whether or not this will be paid (and if so, at what rate). If you don’t intend to pay your staff for overtime, make sure that their pay exceeds the National Minimum Wage on average for the hours they have worked (including the additional time) and ensure that employee receive the appropriate rates of pay for the hours they work. Failure to do so could lead to Employment Tribunal claims and even a huge penalty from HMRC.

If you are confused about rates of pay, or need help with your employment contracts, please contact our Employment Team on 0161 926 1508 or follow our employment-law specific Twitter account @HRGuruUK.


Should I be Paying Top Up Fees for Care?

As a recent Age UK report has shown, there is an increasing crisis in the provision of residential and nursing care home beds.

Age UK’s research makes for stark reading, revealing that 1.4 million people are not getting the care they need and spending on care has fallen by 9% since 2010.

In around 30% of areas in England there are no available residential care beds, and in over 60% of areas there are no nursing care beds.

In those areas which do have available beds, in a market where demand outstrips supply, it is a commercial reality that Care Homes prefer to take self-funding resident paying more for their care over Local Authority residents who pay a lower rate.

This creates a scenario whereby a Local Authority funded resident can only accept a place at a preferred local care home if there is a member of their family willing to pay a top-up: the difference between the rate the Local Authority will pay and the amount the Care Home is actually charging.

The law certainly allows for a top up payment if there is a genuine choice between a suitable care home which accepts Local Authority rates and a preferred alternative care home which costs more. It is, however, unlawful for a Local Authority to expect a family to pay a top up if there is no alternative suitable care home with availability in the area which will accept the Local Authority’s standard rate.

As a professional advisor specialising in issues relating to care funding, I am increasingly having to challenge unlawful requests for top up payments, often saving families from needlessly having to pay £000’s towards their elderly relatives care costs.

These are difficult times for the care industry with often catastrophic impact upon people’s lives. Since 2017 the Government has promised plans to reform the care system, but these plans have repeatedly been delayed with no indication at present of when they will be forthcoming.

For further information, please contact our Associate Kerry Blackhurst from the Wills, Trusts and Probate department on 0161 926 1533 .

Successful Mergers and Acquisitions – Integration Strategy

The secret of a successful merger or acquisition isn’t as a result of the skills of the lawyers involved in the successful completion of the transaction. It succeeds, or fails, as a result of the vision and strategy behind the deal and the successful integration of the two, or more, entities long after deal completion.

So what are the key areas to work on to make sure you give your merger every chance of being a successful and value enhancing one?


Prepare and plan your integration strategy

This should start well before completion and incorporate the reasons for the merger or acquisition in the first place. Include an assessment of the commercial aspects of the two entities, the customer bases, the cultural fit and any economies of scale and/or other potential efficiency savings.

Integration team

Create an integration team to look at all aspects of the current and target business to include people and HR, IT, data, process and systems, timescales, consultation, PR and communications.

Whilst more people can be added to the team once it has been announced and progressed, the senior team, brought together in the planning stages well in advance of completion, need to meet regularly and create a project plan to deal with the work and deliver the aims and objectives of the integration. This project plan should be presented to the Board ready for sign off prior to implementation. The plan needs to ensure it is clear on what success looks like after the first week, first month, first year. Genuine successful integration is one where there is one entity, integrated at every level throughout the organisation, operating with one goal and one vision.

The people and HR

Who are the key people involved in the merged entity? Is the need to tie in any individuals critical to the success of the merger? What are the personalities an overriding values and drivers of the people in the respective organisations? How were the two cultures be combined?

IT and data

What are the IT systems in use and how will they be integrated? What data will need to be migrated? Do you have sufficient consents / permissions to migrate? The IT and the operational processes and systems, which will be unique to each organisation, will need to be harmonised. Successful integrations aim to enhance and utilise a “best of breed” approach so that there is the opportunity to learn and take the examples of best practice from both organisations into the newly integrated entity. This will help ensure the opportunities for success are maximised at every opportunity and at every level throughout the organisation. A review should encompass all the process and systems of each organisation including the suppliers, financial partners, customers, employees and any other relevant stakeholders.


Integration isn’t an overnight or quick process. The integration plan should also include actions and activities and research in the weeks in the run-up to completion. At the outset, in parallel to the negotiations for the deal, objectives and actions need to be clearly set out for immediately before, on and after completion, day one, week one, week two and so on. In particular the first month, quarter, first half-year, first year and second year are key milestones to assess progress and success against those objectives agreed at the outset. Having a clear idea for the Board of the merged entity, and the senior integration team, as to what success looks like at each of these milestones and what needs to be done ready for and on each of those milestones will help ensure integration stays focused and on track.


Consulting with your people and harmonising an agreed set of values for the culture is one of the most important aspects, alongside, in our experience, the right communication strategy and the right motivators for doing the transaction in the first place.

Ultimately it is the integration team that is responsible for ensuring that the goal of a successful integration are achieved.

Communications and PR

How the transaction is communicated prior to completion, on completion and on the milestones afterwards to internal stakeholders, (your people), suppliers, customers, prospect customers and the wider world and having a clear communication strategy for each of those different cohorts should be established early on in the integration plan.


For help and advice on mergers and acquisitions and creating an integration plan and team, please speak to our Corporate and Commercial team or Stephen Attree, Owner and Head of Corporate, Commercial and IP at MLP Law.



Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 – Day 2

Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams  – celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.

Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself  –  things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.

Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep  – when you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.

Look at yourself as a whole person   when you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you — as a whole person.

Surround yourself with positive people  –  it is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.

Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person  – you can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.

Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body – work with your body, not against it.

Become a critical viewer of social and media messages – pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Protest these messages: write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message.

Do something nice for yourself   something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Spend a nice active day outdoors, make time for a nap, or find a peaceful place outside to relax.

Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others  – sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.


NEDA – feeding hope /


Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 – Day 1

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from Monday 13th May –  Friday 17th May and, during this time, MLP will be proactively spreading awareness of the day-to-day issues that people struggle with.

This year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is body image.

Last year, the Mental Health Foundation found that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by issues surrounding their body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. That’s almost 1 in every 3 people.

Scottish actor, Richard Madden, who is best known for Game of Thrones, Cinderella and the Netflix series Bodyguard has spoken out against the ‘’unrealistic’’ demands he has had to face regarding his weight and body image.

In his British Vogue interview, Madden said: – ‘’I’ve done numerous jobs where you’re told to lose weight and get to the gym. It doesn’t just happen to women, it happens to men all the time as well’’.

Whilst it has not commonly been a topic that has been openly discussed, we are now seeing more people openly talking about their mental health struggles.  Ed Sheeran, Craig David, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Smith and Olly Alexander are amongst those who have made it clear that mental health is becoming an issue in the era of social media.

Well-known female personalities, such as Priyanka Chopra and Selena Gomez, have been publicly criticised for their appearance. Selena Gomez addressed the body shamers during a recent interview saying: – ‘’I did gain weight, but I don’t care’’. Even though Selena admitted she doesn’t care what other people say, it took her a long time to accept her own body.

We have attached a link to the Mental Health Foundation’s website, which gives more information about Mental Health Awareness Week:

Please click the link below if you would like to read actor Richard Madden’s interview with BBC:


#BeBodyKind #mentalhealthawarenessweek


Common misconceptions preventing businesses from using mediation

Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential way of resolving workplace disputes between employees. It works by using an independent, impartial person to assist employees who are having issues in the workplace to reach a solution that is acceptable to the parties. The mediator does not make a judgment or finding in the matter, rather they facilitate an agreement between them.

The overall aim of mediation is to restore and maintain employment relationships. But when should it be considered? Many employers think that mediation doesn’t lend itself to their situation. This blog will tackle some commonly held misconceptions that might be stopping your business from using this varied and successful method of solving staff disputes and boosting morale.

Mediation can’t be used for problems between managers and their juniors

It might be tempting to see mediation purely as a solution between employees of the same rank. However, mediation lends itself to disputes between employees of all levels and can even be used in group disputes. It usually takes place over one or two days, depending on the number of employees involved, and allows each employee to give their side of the disagreement to the mediator alone. All of the employees will then be brought together with the mediator, and the group will work to achieve a solution. The mediator’s role isn’t to come up with the answer, but to help the parties assess what would work in their circumstances.  If the mediation is successful, the mediator will write up a written agreement that the parties will take away.

This method allows each employee to be heard by a qualified and impartial person. This means that in a scenario where an employee feels intimidated by their manager, mediation allows them to voice how they feel, freely and openly. This could be more appropriate than heading straight to a formal grievance procedure which may feel intimating to any employee, regardless of their position within the company.

An employee has raised a grievance, I can’t use mediation now

Mediation can be used at any stage of a conflict, as long as any formal procedures are paused for the duration of the mediation. If an employee has raised a grievance, but is happy to attempt mediation as a way of resolving their issue, the grievance proceedings can be put on hold, provided that the employee is aware that the procedures can be restarted if the mediation is unsuccessful.

It’s important to remember that each situation is unique and should be judged on a case by case merit. Mediation may not be appropriate where an individual has brought a discrimination or harassment case and wants it investigated promptly. However, mediation can be very powerful and valuable in many cases.


If you have an issue that could lend itself to mediation or an employee dispute that you need advice on, please contact our employment team on 0161 926 9969.