The Carers Leave Act (2023) taking effect on April 6th is a positive step, recognising the critical role unpaid carers play in society. However, a new VinciWorks poll found a significant gap between the Act’s provisions and the needs of working carers.

The Carers Leave Act, which applies to all businesses and industries, offers a week of unpaid leave – a start, but one that falls short of the significant support working carers require. VinciWorks, a leading compliance eLearning and software solutions provider, surveyed over 150 HR and compliance professionals. Its findings show that 70% of respondents believe the Act doesn’t go far enough.

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Neurodiversity is the term that describes the idea that there is naturally occurring variation in the human brain, which can impact a series of brain functions such as how we interact with one another and how we process information.

The word neurodiversity is short for neurological diversity. Neurological or neurology is a word that describes the biological functioning of the nervous system, and in particular the brain. Neuro- is a prefix that can be applied to other words to discuss things relating to the nervous system or brain.

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Neurodiversity is becoming more understood as a workplace issue.

As many as 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent, meaning that organisations that fail to meet the needs of their neurodivergent staff and clients are neglecting a significant demographic. Although there are challenges associated with these differences, there are also many strengths.

At the same time, failing to make workplaces inclusive of neurodiversity is an increasing risk. Over a hundred cases of neurodiversity discrimination were taken to employment tribunals last year, with almost none the year before.

Organisations that fail to put in place the right policies and procedures to support neurodivergent staff are at risk of losing talented staff, as well as the risk of legal action. Making a workplace that is neurodiversity friendly doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

In this webinar, we examined neurodiversity, strategies for supporting neurodivergent staff at work, and the policies and procedures organisations should have in place.

This one-hour session covered:

– What is neurodiversity, and what are different neurodivergent conditions?
– The challenges faced by neurodivergent staff at work
– Strategies to support and encourage diversity of thought at work
– Short workplace scenario clips on how organisations can support neurodivergent people
– Supporting neurodivergent staff in the workplace
– Creating policies and procedures inclusive of neurodiversity

The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued guidance to inform firms they could be liable for being taken to an employment tribunal if they do not make reasonable adjustments for staff experiencing menopause.

Adjustments can include time off, flexible hours, relaxed uniform policies and rest areas. Failing to make reasonable adjustments can amount to disability discrimination, as menopause symptoms can have a long term and substantial impact on a person’s ability to carry out usual day-to-day activities.

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Many people turn to religion when confronted by grief or going through a mourning process. Even if someone is not very religious, cultural traditions for coping with loss are often relied upon when going through a period of bereavement.

But it can also be tricky for workplaces to know how to best support their employees who are mourning, given the wide diversity of religious beliefs, practices and traditions. 

Should you send flowers, or food? Will the funeral be straight away, or days and weeks later? Is it appropriate to say Rest in Peace? Does the religion believe in an afterlife?

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Our latest survey has exposed a stark reality: 44% of compliance officers and managers feel unprepared for the compliance challenges that lie ahead in 2024. Only 7% feel fully confident in tackling the challenges in the year ahead, signalling a potential industry-wide gap in readiness to address the ever-changing regulatory landscape. 

The survey gathered 212 responses from industry leaders across the UK, USA, Spain and Germany, and gauged professionals’ confidence levels and preparedness in managing compliance issues. The findings underscore a critical need for robust compliance training programs as organisations navigate an increasingly complex regulatory environment. 

Beyond the headline unpreparedness, the survey explored various dimensions of compliance readiness:

1. Fraud Prevention Training

While 27% have implemented failure to prevent fraud training and an additional 27% are planning to do so, a concerning 46% revealed they have not yet rolled out failure to prevent fraud training, are undecided or have no plans to in the near future. This lack of preparation and preventive measures leaves businesses at an increased risk of fraudulent activities.

The new “failure to prevent fraud” offence comes into the UK as part of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act, which marks a significant shift in how businesses will be held accountable to combat corporate fraud and protect victims. Failure to provide adequate training can leave organisations susceptible to financial losses and reputational damage.

2. CSRD Compliance Preparedness

Only 2% of compliance professionals claimed to be fully prepared for Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) compliance despite 50,000 companies worldwide being expected to be impacted by it. In comparison, almost half (47%) expressed uncertainty or deemed CSRD irrelevant to their operations.

As 2024 sees the first published reports from many large companies on their CSRD compliance, the global implications will ripple through supply chains, demanding a proactive approach.

3. Neurodiversity Training

In an era witnessing a quadrupling of neurodiversity discrimination cases from 2018-2022, compared to the number of cases from 2003-2017, organisations risk legal repercussions and employee well-being concerns without proactive measures for the fair treatment of neurodivergent employees to create a work environment that values and respects differences. 

Despite these figures, only 8% of businesses polled incorporate neurodiversity training into their yearly programs, and a notable 28% have no plans to do so, potentially hindering the creation of an inclusive work environment and causing an escalation of neurodiversity discrimination cases.

4. Gifts and Hospitality Registers

With 2023 witnessing a nearly quarter-billion pound fine against mining giant Glencore for flying suitcases stuffed with cash to local public officials, getting a handle on gifts and hospitality is crucial for businesses to get right in 2024. Worryingly, when questioned on the types of gift registers in place, 43% of compliance professionals admitted relying on outdated spreadsheets, while 18% admitted to not using any tools for this purpose at all, despite a legal requirement to implement procedures to prevent bribery.

Given the prevalence of digital solutions, the reliance on manual tools poses a risk to accurate and comprehensive compliance tracking. Organisations should consider investing in modern systems and technologies for more efficient and accurate compliance management.

5. Internal Policies on the Role of AI

Finally, the survey explored internal policies on the role of AI. While 23% have established policies, 37% have not considered AI policies in the workplace.

As AI integration becomes more commonplace, organisations must proactively develop and update policies to ensure responsible and ethical use. Neglecting this aspect may expose organisations to legal and moral concerns.

“As the compliance landscape undergoes rapid evolution with various regulations coming into force, this survey reveals a glaring gap in preparedness among compliance professionals,” said Nick Henderson-Mayo, Director of Learning and Content at VinciWorks. “The findings emphasise the critical need for proactive compliance procedures and new initiatives, including training. There are solutions out there for busy compliance professionals, including new technologies and automation. Being prepared is half the battle, and businesses can buffet against global headwinds by investing in proactive compliance and risk mitigation.”

To support compliance professionals in understanding the compliance challenges that lie ahead, VinciWorks is offering a free guide on Compliance Trends 2024.

In a recent study carried out by VinciWorks, a global compliance eLearning provider, 212 compliance professionals were surveyed on Compliance Trends 2024.

Living dangerously.

It is 1971, on a sultry June evening in the Long Island suburbs of New York, and I am poised to parade down the aisle in my elementary school graduation ceremony. I glanced enviously at my classmates, slick haired boys crammed into their suits, girls decked in frilly pastel dress like shiny hot dogs encased in starchy buns, tapping out a nervous staccato rhythm with their dress shoes. They look back at me, giving me the once over with a mixture of pity and wonder reflected in their incredulous eyes. I flash them a fake brave smile, wondering if they can hear the pounding of my heart over the crackly noises spilling out over the faulty PA system.

On cue, the solemn notes of Elgar’s pomp and circumstance fill the air, snapping me out of my reverie and imposing the gravity of the occasion on the waiting crowd. As we shuffle forward toward the podium, I start to panic that I have made a huge mistake – and my eyes dart to the auditorium’s emergency exits as I consider making a run for it. But locked into position like a shackled prisoner between my fellow inmates, I have no choice but to keep moving forward until I am in full frontal view of the firing squad.

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In the fast-evolving landscape of workplace diversity, the issue of neurodiversity discrimination has emerged as a pressing concern. Recent data reveals that employment tribunals have witnessed a significant uptick in cases involving allegations of neurodiversity discrimination, with a staggering 102 cases reported in the past year. Even as organisations are increasingly aware of the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce and the competitive edge that this can bring, paying lip service with empty words policies is not enough: organisations must adopt proactive measures to ensure the well-being and fair treatment of neurodivergent employees.

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Our latest research into Google’s online search patterns sheds light on the growing need for menopause support in the workplace. 

Recent findings demonstrate a significant increase in online searches related to menopause and workplace adjustments, indicating a pressing demand for more inclusive workplaces. Online queries for ‘menopause and workplace adjustments’ have surged by a staggering 80% over the past four years (data analysed from October 2019 to September 2023). In parallel, searches for ‘menopause training course and menopause awareness training’ have risen by 75% over the same period.

Furthermore, searches for ‘menopause support in the workplace’ have increased 63% in the last four years. Intriguingly, the term ‘menopause-friendly workplace’ also saw a 63% uptick.

Nick Henderson-Mayo, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at VinciWorks, highlighted the significance of these findings, stating, “What’s clear is that menopause and its symptoms are becoming increasingly crucial issues that organisations need to address. The fact that searches for menopause and workplace adjustments have surged by 80% over the past four years indicates that employees want this issue to be taken more seriously and seek support from their employers to navigate this challenging phase.”

As more women and transgender individuals experience menopause, the need for workplace support becomes even more evident. According to an Office for National Statistics report, approximately 4.5 million women aged 50-64 are currently employed, with many contemplating leaving their jobs due to menopausal symptoms.

Nick continued, “There’s no reason firms shouldn’t be offering menopause leave. Particularly given the high cost of replacing experienced staff, losing high-performing women at this point would be a disaster. Menopause leave is a cost-neutral policy that’s not hard to implement. Increased awareness and comprehensive training is fundamental, particularly because one in ten women aged 45-55 has resigned from their jobs due to these challenges.”

Here are several actionable tips for organisations to support employees facing menopause:

  • Provide training to both managers and staff to facilitate open conversations about menopause and ensure managers can recognise and support employees experiencing it.
  • Break the stigma by demonstrating empathy towards staff going through menopause and asking sensitively about their needs and well-being.
  • Develop a workplace menopause policy or integrate menopause into existing health and wellness policies so that employees are aware of their rights and available support.
  • Consider flexible working arrangements, such as adaptable working hours or remote work options, to accommodate employees dealing with menopausal symptoms.
  • Ensure workplace facilities are comfortable by providing temperature control, access to private restrooms, and cold water and fans.
  • Allow flexible use of sick leave or personal days to manage the unpredictable nature of menopausal symptoms or permit short breaks as needed.

To aid HR and Health and Safety managers’ understanding of menopause, VinciWorks is offering a complimentary World Menopause Day guide and a free trial of its Menopause at Work training course.

For more information and resources, please visit VinciWorks’ Diversity Awareness Training courses.