This Week's News 29.03.18

Auto-enrolment changes

The new tax year will bring a step change in the amounts being saved into your auto-enrolment pension. The combined minimum contributions being paid by employers and employees is set to rise from 2 per cent to 5 per cent of monthly earnings.  For more information visit Pensions Regulator.

New legislation requires all maintained schools and academies to provide opportunities for a range of education and training providers to have access to pupils

The new careers guidance law introduced in January 2018 requires all maintained schools and academies to provide opportunities for a range of education and training providers to have access to pupils, to inform them about approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships. To comply, schools must publish a policy statement on their website setting out how providers can request access.

The statement can be short but must include:

  • the process for requesting access - this might be details for the main contact point at the school
  • grounds for granting and refusing access - this might include details of timetabled careers lessons, assemblies or events which providers may attend
  • details of premises or facilities available to those given access - this might be a brief reference to rooms and resources

How does your organisation view workplace adjustments?

A. As your legal duty
B. An opportunity to protect, support and develop your greatest asset... your people!

Like so many businesses, you might not be sure. We feel the answer should be both! If you only recognise workplace adjustments as a legal duty, you are missing an opportunity to deliver real business impact. Yes, under equality law, you have a duty and legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to ensure equality for disabled people in the workplace. But, when you consider the prevalence of disability and health conditions across your workforce, particularly mental health issues, it's not a surprise that putting in place some simple adjustments can have a positive impact on the wellbeing, efficiency and performance of your workforce. Despite a real shift in attitude towards mental health, 1 in 3 employees with a long-term health condition have not discussed it with their employer and 42% felt their condition affected their work 'a great deal' or 'to some extent'. The challenge now is how do you stand out from the crowd when it comes to recruitment, career development, innovation and inclusion.

Duty or necessity?

The perception that workplace adjustments are a cost as opposed to a tangible return on investment and language surrounding reasonable adjustments, being one of duty, obligation and 'reasonableness', is inadequate for success in current and future business.

Get it right

Small, simple changes can make a big difference to the productivity and efficiency of your business. With simple clear policies, procedures and practices in place your employees feel supported, engaged and able to deliver to their full potential. In turn, you can benefit from a positive workplace culture, improved talent attraction and retention, productivity, and performance.  Both the physical and cultural workplace environment can impact on any individual's ability to perform to their best.

Failure to do so

If your employees don't feel comfortable to ask for help, or if it is made too difficult, then they won't. Where this happens employees often feel devalued, disengaged, with productivity and performance impacted, often with increased levels of absenteeism. The best businesses have already recognised that to be the best, you need talented employees performing to their highest ability which may involve making some adjustments.

Mental health

'Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community.' (World Health Organisation)

What is mental health?

The definition of 'mental ill health' or 'mental health problems' covers a very wide spectrum, from the worries and grief we all experience as part of everyday life to the most bleak, suicidal depression or complete loss of touch with everyday reality. Everybody responds differently to the stresses and strains of modern life and it is common to describe ourselves as 'depressed', 'stressed' or 'anxious' at times. For some, these feelings can become serious enough to make it difficult to carry on with everyday life.

The most common mental health conditions are:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality and eating disorders
  • Self harm and suicide
  • Drug and alcohol misuse

Supporting apprentices who have mental health conditions

We have been working with Remploy for a few years now using their Supporting Apprentices Service This service is there for both the apprentice and employer. It is free, completely confidential and run by fully trained professionals with expertise in mental health.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong developmental disability that affects around 700,000 people in the UK - that's more than one in every 100 people. It includes autism, Asperger's syndrome and pervasive development disorder, and it affects how a person communicates with, and relates to others. All people with ASD share some challenges - such as understanding and processing language - but characteristics of ASD will vary from one person to another.

How does ASD affect people?

ASD is often a hidden disability and many people with it might appear able, but struggle with things such as:

  • Changes to routine
  • Understanding jokes
  • Getting about on their own
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Poor motor skills

They may also experience over or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colour. People with ASD are often very reliable and honest and have a very good attention to detail.

Supporting staff who have ASD

People with ASD make great employees. You can help them to stay with you by:

  • Being clear about what is expected from them
  • Watching out for bullying. Think about getting someone to be their workplace mentor
  • Considering changes to the role to play to their strengths
  • If changes need to be made make sure that they understand what the changes will mean to them


Depression is a common condition. Between eight and 12 per cent of people will experience it in any one year. It is characterised by a low mood and other symptoms, such as anxiety, which last for at least two weeks. Some people may become depressed just once and recover quickly, for others it can last much longer, recur and require treatment. Many people try to 'get on with it' and it is only when their condition worsens that they are treated. However, most people with depression that is managed can work effectively.

How does depression affect people?

Depression will affect everyone differently but there are some common traits, which include:

  • Feeling useless, worthless and miserable
  • Expecting the worst
  • Poor motivation and lack of interest in work and life
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Tiredness
  • Hypersensitivity to comments
  • Change in appetite and weight
  • The need for reassurance
  • In the most extreme cases, thoughts about self harm or suicide

Supporting staff who are depressed

As depression is quite common it is likely that at some point one of your employees will be depressed. You can support them by:

  • Offering flexible working so that they can work from home, or come into work later, or finish work earlier
  • Allow time off for other services, such as counselling
  • Set clear and achievable goals
  • Talk to them about the effects of medication and take action if necessary to avoid workplace risk
  • Consider a phased return to work if the employee has been off sick
  • Have regular meetings to see how they are coping


Dyslexia can be described as difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell.

These difficulties often don't reflect an individual's cognitive abilities and may not be typical of performance in other areas. It is often under diagnosed. Some famous people with dyslexia include Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and John Lennon.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty and with the right adjustments its effects can be minimised. It is not related to intellect and should not be connected to intellectual capacity in any way.

Impact of dyslexia

  • Symptoms of dyslexia may include:
  • Literacy and/or numeracy difficulties
  • Poor handwriting
  • Difficulty with short term memory - they may only remember one or two things at a time
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Difficulty with map reading
  • Poor spatial awareness and limited concentration

Supporting staff who have dyslexia

You can support your staff by:

  • Giving them a diary to help them organise their day
  • Providing coloured overlays to aid reading, or coloured paper with accessible fonts
  • Giving them specialist computer software
  • Discussing which coping strategies they use
  • Providing memory aids, for example a dictaphone
  • Giving training material in advance to allow them to focus on the training rather than trying to take notes
  • Proving access to a sat nav if their work involves driving.

Anxiety disorders and stress

Anxiety covers a range of phobias and disorders. Anxiety and stress are things that most people experience but for some coping with anxiety and stress can become difficult.
There are lots of types of anxiety disorder.

Some of the most common ones are:

  • Social phobias
  • Agoraphobia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Health anxiety (hypochondria)
  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

How do anxiety disorders affect people?

Anxiety disorders affect people both physically and psychologically, including:

  • Sweating
  • Tension
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • More frequent illness, due to lower immune system
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of dread

Supporting staff who have anxiety disorders

People with anxiety disorders often feel misunderstood. Try to find out how their condition affects them.

You could:

  • Appoint a workplace buddy or mentor
  • Talk to the individual to see how they would like to be supported and what triggers their disorder
  • Identify any workplace triggers and see what can be done to allow the individual to avoid these
  • Have regular review meetings

Webinars from Remploy

To help you learn more and increase your disability confidence, Remploy has created a series of short webinars.

Supporting disability and health: Workplace adjustments
Thursday 5 April at 10am
Wednesday 25 April at 10am

Disability in the workplace - How to support colleagues with a sensory impairment
Monday 9 April at 10am

Disability in the workplace - How to support colleagues with multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
Monday 9 April at 2.30pm

Supporting mental health in the workplace
Thursday 5 April at 12pm
Thursday 19 April at 12pm
Thursday 3 May at 12pm
Tuesday 15 May at 10am
Wednesday 16 May at 12.30pm
Thursday 17 May at 4pm

Team ITS warmly welcomes these learners who started their Apprenticeships this week

Jessica Hotston - Level 2 Hair Professional Apprenticeship - Hair Lab, Basingstoke
Kara Moore - Level 2 Hair Professional Apprenticeship - Hair Lab, Basingstoke

Congratulations to the following learner who completed her Apprenticeship this week

Jessica Smith - Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship - Hair To Order, Wokingham

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