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Changing with the times

I read an article in the Times on Sunday written by @AlecMarsh regarding how luxury brands – stalwarts of tradition, high end products and impeccable customer service had to rapidly pivot their offerings to adapt to the pandemic, which is set to disrupt the trading environment for some time.

He reported how @Harrods had to re-evaluate and change their working. Now reopened with social distanced restrictions, the Knightsbridge giant can accommodate 4,500 customers at any one time- compare that to the 80,000 that would usually pass through its doors daily during the January sales. He goes on to explain that as a result it has also had to come up with a creative way to cope with all the stock left behind by 90 days of shutdown: taking up an 85,000 square ft chunk of Westfield london in white city, to create the world’s first socially distanced department store in the world. Here it is holding a sale of spring-summer collections. This is unprecedented says Ward, who reports that after 3 weeks Harrods Outlet is “trading very successfully.” Crucially, this also frees up Harrods proper, with one million sq. ft on offer to sell current collection.

His report also used the scenario of @Gleneagles in Scotland, which reopened on July 15th, right now some 40% of guests would usually be from overseas. As a result, the hotel has had to pivot to its “loyal” domestic client base and bid to attract repeat customers with deals and add- on that would usually be used to fill the pipeline during the leaner months. Director Connor O’Leary who confirms that the main tool has been the direct communication to its data base.

So, whether it’s a small business or large we are all trying to adapt to help people enjoy or have the opportunity to use our services and staff are needing to adapt too to hold onto their work. These strange times are making us all look at our business model and to keep going in very unprecedented times. Having been running my own company since 1996 I have never experienced such as shock and no preparation for the shutdown/lockdown we have all faced.

As a company we decided to help people who wanted to learn to offer reduced training fees. Our service remains at the level we have always offered but we are helping more people than ever to achieve this. How long we sustain the discounts we really do not know but it has meant that business has kept going. As a Community interest company it will mean our profits will not be able to help as many people as we would like but this will change in time and our vision is to make sure we are sustainable so we can look to the future and be there to help people.

Reading this I wanted to think about contracts and how employers may have to change them to adapt. Our childcare training means that nannies could be affected too as more parents are working from home. Whether you are in a company or employ a nanny it is an opportunity to talk to one another and offer alternatives to help everyone stay at work with changes that will make it possible.

Tips for employees:

  • Look at offering flexibility in your working hours

  • Be able to transfer skills to other roles

  • Train so your qualifications or skill set can be utilised by your company

  • CV up to date – ready to apply for new roles that may come up in the company


If your hours are going to be reduced can you:..

  • Do a nanny share with another family?

  • Offer alternative skills to make up the hours such as housework, admin work if they run a business from home, babysitting one evening a week to offset hours?

  • Find another alternative job the days you are not needed?

  • Take the opportunity to learn again and look at a new career? Many colleges or universities full time is only a few days a week or some higher-level courses are a few hours with study at home

  • Be ready for work have training for Ofsted registering ready?

  • DBS in date?

  • First aid up to date?

  • Portfolio ready to show people?

I have gone to ACAS to look at the employment rules which you can go to their site direct for further clarification

To change a contract, they advise the following:

1.Consult employees to agree changes

Open discussion with employees about changes to their contract helps:

  • Employers and employees work together to agree changes

  • Prevent potential disagreements or legal disputes

2.Consulting employees

If an employer needs to change a contract, the first step is to talk with employees (or employee representatives like a trade union).

3.Before consultation

Before consulting employees, it is a good idea for employers to think about:

  • Why they need to make a change

  • What they need to achieve by making a change

3. During consultation

Consultation should be a two-way process where ideas are shared and worked on together.

The employer should:

  • Explain the reason behind making the change

  • Invite employees to talk about their concerns and suggest ideas for alternatives

  • Listen to employees’ concerns and consider their ideas

  • Do everything they can to resolve any employee concerns

4.The employee should:

  • Consider the proposed change and reason for the change

  • Share their views, concerns, and any ideas for alternatives with the employer

  • Continue to talk to the employer about any concerns

  • Make sure they have tried all options to reach an agreement

There is never one contract fits all and over the years I have seen some of the following ways or offering a contract:

  1. Full time contracts

  2. Part time contracts

  3. Hours per annum contracts

  4. Job/family/nanny share

  5. Service agreement for self employed

  6. Flexible hours contract

You must treat each other fairly and agree but it is an opportunity for both parties to speak and discuss matters.

Now is the time for businesses and employers to really look at how they can continue so that employment is retained, and it can help one another keep going.

If an employee is worried about their job speak to your employer and discuss.

Disclaimer: Project action seek to continue keeping information up to date however we suggest that employees and employers seek legal advise either by using the link to ACAS or speaking to an employment specilised to check the action they wish to take meets employment law that is required. We will not be liable for any losses

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