Since 1999 I have advised clients in a wide range of sectors, including: retail, education, insurance, recruitment / employment agency, estate agents, e-learning, crowd funding, logistics, security, IT, and commercial cleaning.
I use my specialism in ‘hard’ employment law, i.e. technical knowledge and litigation experience, to provide effective solutions to clients’ challenges and to focus effort where it counts.
My ethos is that prudence and proportionality are key to delivering effective results and ensuring good value.
My clients all come by recommendation and I pride myself on building strong and close working relationships with the leaders and managers I work with.
SDC HR – March ’13 – date
This is my own consultancy business which, since I founded it together with my long standing colleague Sue Dormand, has taken me far deeper into internal HR work than before. It breaks down like this:
Internal investigations – disciplinary, grievance and capability problems with highly paid employees or those with long service require careful handling. I gather evidence, conduct interviews and write reports. Often I attend formal hearings to advise on procedures, technical points and outcomes.
Family friendly rights – this area is dominated by complex regulations that often cause clients difficulty. I provide comprehensive guidance and ‘bolt on’ solutions (e.g. the nightmarish Shared Parental Leave and Pay Regs).
Updates – I monitor developments in the law, best practice and real world business decisions that influence industrial relations experience. A ‘bulletin’ update is produced for clients and contacts. My practice is to develop solutions and best practice advice and provide this pro-actively to my clients.
Training / speaking – I write and deliver training courses: recent courses include Performance Management, Disciplinary Investigations and Equal Opportunities. I addressed the ‘GovKnow’ conference on labour market reforms regarding the potential impact of new regulations on the market.
Compliance – I draft policies and processes to cater for different types of employers, ranging from ‘essentials’ (start ups and small firms) to very detailed (for heavily unionised sectors such as education). I advise on Equal Opportunities and guide employers on how to protect themselves and their staff.
Contracts – I write template contracts (e.g. employee, contractor, zero hours, senior management, etc) and tailor to clients’ specific requirements. I also draft and negotiate Settlement Agreements.
Employment relations – I liaise with unions for consultation purposes and work with them in individual employee issues to resolve matters quickly and with minimum disruption and risk.
Employment Tribunal case management and advocacy – I continue to represent the full range of litigants and achieve successful outcomes in the overwhelming majority of cases. This may sound cocky, but honestly: a losing case is easy to spot if you’ve been around the block a few times (and settlement is almost always preferable to slugging it out).
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to abolish Employment Tribunal fees the UK is fast returning to the pre-2013 claims culture and I expect to be doing a lot more advocacy now.
GDP Armour – March ’18 – date
In the run up to 25th May 2018 the world went GDPR mad, and with good reason. Whilst the fundamentals of the data protection laws remained substantially the same, fines became far more significant in scope and organisations were effectively ‘put to proof’ on their internal governance structures and practices. The ICO grew a set of sharp teeth and promised to use them.
Data protection goes hand-in-glove with hard employment law and HR practices and I was a natural choice to be asked to act as Data Protection Officer. So I teamed up with my brother, a journalist with freedom of information tattooed across his heart, to offer a one stop compliance solution.
Whilst the buzz surrounding GDPR and the new Data Protection Act 2018 has – for now – died down, compliance is indisputably crucial to all organisations and our services deliver:
Audit – I designed an audit tool specifically to capture the accountability requirements of GDPR and this is available to clients on ‘do it yourself’ or ‘we do the leg-work’ bases.
Policy – Our policy templates are amended to match clients’ data processing practices and provide easy to understand reference guides.
Privacy notices – With the audit element in place, we help client’s create a ‘privacy portal’ to comply with the transparency aspects of GDPR and ensure their processing is lawful.
Training – We provide a half day training course backed up with bi-weekly refreshers by email (because there’s a limit to how much data protection information a normal human being can assimilate in one sitting!).
The GDP Armour website is linked here.
Action & Answers (the return of) – June ’16 – date
I have always undertaken a lot of pro bono work, but prior to June ’16 there was no structure around this work and it often took up more time than I could spare.
The solution was to resurrect Action & Answers as a not for profit, and offer limited free advice to employers and employees through a web-portal that automatically triages cases and sets necessary parameters.
Action & Answers – Feb ’10 – Dec ’13
I was the sole Director and owner of this boutique consultancy which provided advice and advocacy services to SMEs, PLCs, Charities, Schools and private clients. There was also a focus on insurance work carried forward from Qdos and Cigna.
Qdos Consulting – Sept ’07 – Feb ’10
As the only employee retained by Cigna, I transferred to Qdos – who were based in Leicestershire – and continued with my case-load as before.
It soon became apparent that being self employed would make little difference to my working practices and be far more rewarding and remunerative.
Cigna (formerly FirstAssist) – Apr ’99 – Sept ’07
I was employed as an Employment Law Consultant providing case management and advocacy services to insured businesses, individuals and private fee paying clients.
FirstAssist, as it then was, gradually eroded its in-house employment advocacy team until eventually only one remained.
In 2002 I completed the solicitors’ training at the College of Law London. By this time I was managing my own case-load and enjoying Employment Tribunal advocacy, so I chose not to complete the vocational stage of qualification.
A have a degree in business law from the – now defunct – London Guildhall University. A lower second class degree, thanks to my over-enthusiasm for pub based activities as this time.
I attended Skinners’ Grammar School for Boys and West Kent College in Tonbridge. Those were the days…
I have an in depth knowledge of employment contract law, unfair dismissal, discrimination, family friendly rights, working time, TUPE and data protection.
20 years of practice and regular appearances in the Employment Tribunals have given me a keen ability to identify the important issues and help clients take a strategic view on their approach to issues, risk, time and costs. In the Employment Tribunal context these ingredients have to be mixed in appropriate measures.
I negotiate on clients’ behalves and often attain results that initially seemed impossible, I do this by developing and using ‘levers’, and with a liberal smattering of objectivity, patience and cooperation.
I design policies and processes for clients and train managers in their effective use.
Efficiencies are attained by recognising and using interlinked concepts, e.g. those involved across the disciplines of recruitment, induction, probation, appraisal and capability.
Compliance with a wide range of legal requirements, best practice and safeguarding and protection of vulnerable groups are also areas of expertise.
My LinkedIn profile provides some more useful information about areas of specialism under ‘skills and endorsements’. It can be seen here.