Blogs | 1230 TWC - Part 9

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Johanne Narayn

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Inner Power Hypnobirthing Workshop 10th September

Know any one who is pregnant?
Or are you pregnant?
Would you like to have a magical birth experience where you are in control working with your body which is designed to give birth?

Then why not come along, with your partner, to my next Hypnobirthing Workshop and learn all the tools you need to have a wonderfully natural birth and gain tools for life?

For more information visit my website
All 1230 members who book by 31st August will be given a £20.

Posted by on 17/08/2011 19:37:31


You may find yourself having to consider homeworking:

• as part of a flexible working request;
• as a disability adjustment;
• in order to cope during the Olympics; or
• a whole variety of other reasons.

Employment law, health and safety, and data protection controls are just as necessary for the homeworker as they are for the office worker, and there are other issues to take into account as well.

There is no legal definition of a homeworker. Someone who answers a work-related telephone call at home may be working at home for a few minutes. But a “homeworker” is usually regarded as someone who has a regular time when all or part of their duties are conducted from home.

If your employees work from home they are covered by your normal policies and procedures, as set out in their contract of employment. But you have to make additional arrangements to cover the homeworker at home.

You need to consider:

• environment suitability
• health and safety requirements
– including eye tests, workstation assessment
• equipment provision
• insurance cover
– including employer’s liability
• rental or mortgage agreement
– check to ensure it allows homeworking
• ongoing and non-recurring costs
• tax liability

Homeworking incurs specific liabilities for the organisation, and responsibilities for the individual. So it is best to draw up a separate agreement with such staff, to ensure that important points about this type of working relationship have been mutually discussed and understood.

We recommend using a formal process, with a paper trail, so that the ‘homeworker’ and their employer review these points and record an agreement about how the arrangements will work. Clarity really helps here, before you get too far down the road. It’s much cheaper to sort out possible problems before they arise.

If you already have people on ‘homework’ arrangements that are not well documented, then we recommend that you get it sorted out right away. We have created a ‘Homeworker Agreement Application’ and a ‘Homeworking Employee Agreement’, to make this process simple and smooth. Click here to get your copy –

Posted by on 10/08/2011 10:41:46

Great Choice!

Have you noticed the huge choice of business networks out there? Great, isn’t it having so much choice? We can pick and choose when, where, which and who we talk to. “Variety is the spice of life”, “A stitch in time saves 9” don’t know quite where that came from – but “quality not quantity” should be one saying applied by the discerning business networker.

Effective business networking is about building relationships. OK, some may be the equivalent of a one night stand, dashing here and there, dishing out business cards, but is it effective networking? Does it build worthwhile, sustainable relationships? Does it bring business, money? No. Or at least, very rarely.

As an IT Trainer I love delivering PowerPoint training; with sound, lots of image choices, video, it’s great fun, but in the real world delivering a presentation with impact, less is more and so it is with business networking.

Many networking events boast of “150 attending, you must be there!” Why? Realistically, how many of those 150 will you be able to speak to, or even see? How many 1:1s could you arrange from a meeting that size? That’s not to say that you won’t learn from such an event; there maybe workshops, inspiring speakers, break-out rooms. But believe me, attending events that size on a regular basis does not build relationships.

Why do you need to build business relationships? People buy from people they trust and you can only get to trust people by meeting them regularly and arranging 1:1 meetings (even over the phone) to find out more about their business and they about yours.

So, is so much choice good? I don’t think so. What about you? Let us know what you think. 020 8650 8015

Posted by on 02/08/2011

Foreign working ‘could boost women’s careers’

Women keen to further their careers may want to look into transferring money abroad and relocating to a foreign country following one expert’s comments.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Alison Meehan of Spanish social networking site Costa Women, explained that heading overseas can help boost a woman’s job prospects.

She described how she has worked in Australia, Spain, Thailand and Dubai, which all helped her to boost her experience and stand out from other individuals.

“People find that their boundaries and minds are expanded and far more often would find ourselves in a situation where we have to live outside of our comfort zone,” Ms Meehan said of getting a position abroad.

It was suggested that in the current competitive job market it is vital ladies can bring as much as possible to a position.

For example, it was noted that skills in a foreign language, as well as an understanding of different cultures and customs can give jobseekers the edge.

As well as making a candidate seem more appealing to an employer, the experience of working overseas can help individuals to try out new avenues.

“This provides a great challenge and good chance for them to do what they have always wanted to do and monetise a hobby, or skill-set that was put to work for an employer previously,” Ms Meehan commented.

A recent survey conducted by NatWest International Personal Banking revealed that 83 per cent of women who have a job outside of the UK believe it will boost their career opportunities.

Meanwhile, 52 per cent claimed the time spent working abroad exceeded their expectations.

Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking, claimed the results suggest that moving to a foreign country could be beneficial to those ladies who are looking for a “fast track to promotion”.
HiFX News@ 12:00 AM (1st August 2011)

Posted by on 02/08/2011 18:40:42

Balancing the Bump – Flexible working requests Part II

Balancing the Bump – Flexible working requests PtII
Annabel: All the statistics show that working women with young children want shorter hours (part time working), but the right to request flexible working has a wider range of options in mind. One of the things a parent can request is home working (either in conjunction with part time working or on a full time basis).

Laura: There are a lot of informal home working arrangements in place for all sorts of workers. How an organisation responds to a request for home working depends in great part on the role the woman has, the facilities for home working (if IT is set up for it for example), and the organisation’s historic experience of home working. Managers can feel that people who are working at home are not under their supervision, and this can make them reluctant to agree

Annabel: It is really important to be clear about whether your request is:
a) To work your normal hours of work at home
b) To work reduced hours of work at home
c) To work flexible hours at home (normal or reduced)

I see a lot of problems when a woman makes a flexible working request for home working and then is not available during normal working hours. She thinks she is working flexible hours, while her boss thinks she is working her normal hours from home.

Laura: It is important to have proper childcare arrangements alongside home working. There aren’t many jobs you can do well with a baby on one knee, never mind a toddler. Home working can save the commute time (and reduce childcare costs), but if you are working your normal hours from home, you need childcare arrangements. If you want to work the same number of hours but at unpredictable times (flexibly when baby is in bed), you need to make sure you have requested that in your flexible working request, and have a plan to handle it that your boss has signed off on.

Annabel: If your organisation has established policies on working at home, they will know how to deal with health and safety and handling confidential data (if you do), but if you are the first person to work from home in your organisation, there is a fair amount of work to be done to get this going, and you should make your request early so people can find out what needs to be done.

Laura: Be realistic. If you live with lots of other people and don’t have any space to work in or keep work stuff in, it is going to be hard to work from home and be efficient. What works for the odd day writing reports may not work as a longer term plan with a new baby in the house. If you are working flexi hours too, will you be able to concentrate if someone else is watching TV, playing computer games?

Annabel: Sometimes a transfer to a more convenient office is a better bet than regular home working, or a mix of home and office working that allows you to see your colleagues face to face. It can feel very isolating working exclusively at home – particularly if you are working when your baby is asleep. Some people work at local coffee shops, or use Skype.

Do you have a query that you’d like Laura or Annabel to answer? Follow this link and post your question for them –

Posted by on 29/07/2011 10:20:03

Flexible working requests – stay on full pay by compressing your hours?

Annabel: Flexible working requests don’t have to be to work fewer hours, or to work at home. When my first child was born, I just changed the hours I worked. Rather than working a 5 day 35 hour week (with two hours minimum per day commuting), I switched to 3 twelve-hour days. It was tough but it was worth it because it gave me a four day weekend.

Laura: This arrangement can be very tiring since it involves some long days, but it can mean you need to spend less on childcare (if you have someone available to pick up your child at the normal time on your three working days).

Annabel: I found it really useful to have the extra quiet time in the office, but still to be working (and present) for my normal number of hours. My colleagues were sceptical at first, referring to me working part time, but at the end of the year it turned out I had outperformed them on every measure we used to evaluate performance, from fee earning onward.

Laura: It is important to have proper time for yourself and rest time if you are going to work this way. If you just switch from doing a full time condensed week into doing housework and being Mum, you can find yourself getting very tired indeed. Make sure you schedule some ‘me’ time into this cycle.

Annabel: I think I made that mistake. I used to do all the shopping and chores on Friday so that the weekend was child time, and then use Monday night to prepare for the week. If I knew then what I know now, I would have made sure I had at least half a day of ‘me time’ in that schedule – if only to take a walk in the park.

Laura: Be realistic. If your job requires constant contact with you, you may end up working three long days and then being on the phone on your other days anyway. You need to make sure you are not taking on more than you can do over the mid-term. So many women strive to be superwoman when they have a young family.

Annabel: You need to think about which days and how this might work with bank and public holidays. Most bank and public holidays are on Friday and Mondays and most people want to work flexibly to give them long weekends. If you are happy to do something outside of Tuesday-Thursday you may find your boss more enthusiastic if you are not part of a large and interchangeable team. If you are working your normal hours on condensed days you need to make sure you get the same number of public holidays as your five day a week colleagues. It is easy to people to view you as part time – which you are not!

Laura: There are jobs when this can work very well, but this doesn’t work for everyone or every organisation. If you are doing work that can be done without customer contact or without unscheduled colleague contact, then the actual time you do your work may not be an issue. This pattern can work but hardly anyone ever thinks of it. This is one of many options under the ‘flexible working’ heading.

Do you have a query that you’d like Laura or Annabel to answer? Follow this link and post your question for them –

Posted by on 29/07/2011 10:21:26

Balancing the Bump – Medical problems and maternity leave

Annabel: Everyone hopes that birth and delivery will go smoothly, but the one thing employers really dread is dealing with what happens when something goes wrong. The combination of a highly emotional situation, complicated legal rights, and stressed individuals sends most bosses running for the hills.

Laura: According to Sands, a charity who support newly bereaved parents who have lost a baby or had a stillbirth (, 11 stillbirths take place every day in the UK. Compared to the number of babies being born, this is a very small percentage, but it is a devastating experience.

Annabel: Women who lose their baby before their twenty-fifth week of pregnancy do not have the right to statutory maternity leave. This usually coincides with the 15th week before the expected week of confinement (the EWC) – a month before the point at which maternity leave could normally start anyway (at the 11th week before the EWC).

Once a pregnancy reaches its 25th week, a woman will qualify for maternity leave. . The birth itself triggers the start of maternity leave (if it has not already started). When the start of maternity leave is triggered this way, the woman should notify her employer ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ that her leave has started. Statutory maternity pay would start from this point too.

Laura: Every woman will respond in her own way, but it is important not to rush back to work unless you really have to, and to take time to grieve. Women can feel pressurised to get back to work and act as if nothing really happened and sometimes their partners can push for an early return to ‘normality’ to help them cope with the loss.

Annabel: Maternity leave is normally 52 weeks. Many women will want to return to work earlier than that. Once the leave has started, women must give at least 8 weeks’ notice of an earlier date of return. And it is illegal for women to return to work within two weeks of the birth in any event.

Laura: It can be tempting for the woman to get back to work as early as possible, but not all women will be medically or psychologically fit to do so. There may be the physical trauma of a difficult birth to add to the grief itself.

Annabel: We are all notoriously shy about dealing with grief, and bosses can feel that they are in a no-win situation. If they don’t contact the woman, they may be viewed as uncaring and not interested; if they do, this may be viewed as unwanted intrusion. Though I do think the client I had who phoned a week after a stillbirth saying “You don’t want your maternity leave then do you, when are you getting back to work?” took the prize for insensitivity.

Laura: A simple condolence card and/or flowers can bridge the gap between contact and intrusion. A note saying “we are all thinking of you – contact us when you feel you are ready” may be all that is needed. Making no contact at all can feel like a rejection, and can really upset parents who are already grieving.

Annabel: A partner may be entitled to unpaid dependant’s leave to briefly spend some time with their partner and to make arrangements for a funeral (if one is to be held).

Paternity leave: the mother’s co-parent will be entitled to two weeks’ paternity leave under the normal rules provided the “24 weeks of pregnancy” threshold has been passed. The co-parent, in applying for paternity leave, must certify that the leave is being sought “to care for the child or to support the child’s mother”.

If a stillbirth occurs earlier than the 15th week before the EWC, the co-parent might be entitled to compassionate leave under their employer’s scheme, but they would not be entitled to statutory paternity leave.

Parental leave: If the co-parent had already arranged for parental leave, then that would no longer apply. Parental leave is specifically to care for a child, and does not apply to caring for the person’s partner.

Laura: Partners can be just as upset by the loss of a baby as the birth mother. It can be easy to ignore them as everyone concentrates on supporting the birth mother.

Annabel: Employers are always in a difficult situation when dealing with bereavement. Most employers simply do not have the skills or the time to do what in effect is a counselling job. If a bereaved parent returns to work early from pre booked parental leave, the chances are they will not be quite the same as they were when they left.

Laura: Women are not always thinking straight at this point. Some try to bury themselves in work, but a common feature of grieving can be impaired concentration. This can lead to problems at work.

Annabel: You may want to look at the risk assessment for the role. If the role is stressful, deadline driven, or has other upsetting features, it may be a good idea to sit down and suggest a temporary adjustment of duties to get the individual back to work on a gradual basis. If you think the individual is not ready to return, or needs some form of counselling, you will need great tact in suggesting this. But you should avoid at all costs giving advice or directions about what it is safe or wise for the individual to do.

Laura: Many women are tempted into rushing to try to have another baby. It is a good idea to find out if there are any medical or genetic tests that need to be done, and whether you are fit enough to start the process again.

Annabel: For the boss, of course, one maternity leave period with an unexpectedly early return, followed by a second period within a year or two, can be very difficult to manage. Whilst most bosses are supportive of women’s desire to have a baby and use their maternity leave, it can be difficult for small organisations in particular to handle, especially if they have not properly contracted for any maternity leave cover and end up paying for the whole period and having an early returner.

Do you have a query that you’d like Laura or Annabel to answer? Follow this link and post your question for them –

Posted by on 29/07/2011 10:22:57

Balancing the Bump – Flexible working requests

Annabel: Parents with children under 17 have the right to make a flexible working request. This can be a request for a change of hours, time of work, or location (e.g. home working). Requests are usually for shorter hours, or some element of home working (or both). Although these are called ‘flexible working’ requests, once granted they form the basis of a revised contract, and they do not usually give rise to a right to work ‘flexibly whenever I can or need to’.

Laura: Many women make flexible working requests during their maternity leave so that they can return to work on shorter hours. With childcare so expensive, most parents are calculating how much each partner earns versus the cost of childcare. If your employer offers childcare vouchers, snap them up as they are still good value for money, and can save you money, even though the rules and tax savings have recently changed. Just ask your place of work about the scheme, or ask for one to be set up.

Annabel: While it is very important for parents to work out how they will care for their child, I am often astonished at how little thought has gone into the flexible working request. When a parent makes a formal request, the legal requirements are that it (1) is in writing; (2) states that it is a statutory request for a contract variation, and explains how you qualify for the right; (3) states whether a previous application has been made; (4) sets out the changes wanted, and when it is proposed they become effective; (5) explains what effect the parent thinks the change will have on the employer, and how that change could be dealt with.
Whilst many parents complain that their requests are rejected unfairly, I see requests that never could work in organisational terms. The key to success is to go beyond just what you want, and figure out how to make it work for your boss.

Laura: The emotional stress of having a baby – be it a euphoric positive effect or depressive episode – usually takes women by surprise. Becoming a mother is a massive change to a working woman, the way they think, feel and behave may change with the stress, and this can lead some Mums to feel that they are being unfairly treated when they aren’t (some are!) because they don’t think of the business, just of their new baby and how they have the extra responsibility to juggle with a career.

If the money is reduced as a consequence of changing to part time hours, it suddenly becomes unfair in an emotional way because the Mum can feel that the company is literally stealing from the mouths of babes. The secret for the employer is communicate, communicate, communicate . . . get the full picture and understand why a reasonable, hard working, loyal employee has suddenly made an odd or difficult request (if that is what it seems like) and help and support her to do what is right for her and her career. If she knows the company is looking after her, especially in this economic climate, she is likely to return, find her feet and flourish again in her career.

Annabel: It is important to come up with a proposal that works for your boss and to ‘sell’ it to them so they can see how it could work for them. If you just walk in there and say “the crèche hours mean I have to leave at 4pm every day and never work Mondays or Fridays”, then you are not giving anyone any reason to work with you on this. If you go in with, “I have looked at our department and the peak hours of customer demand are (x to y, day to day) and I can be available for all those hours but I would like to be off from 4pm every day when there are normally more than enough staff to cope “ – then that is a different proposition.

When your new baby is the entire focus of your existence, it can be hard to imagine that anything needs to be said other than what they need. But, in the world of work, getting the job done and satisfying the customers has to come into it. Of course, we can’t all work 3 days a week, school hours only. And if there are already other people in your role who do that, it may make it increasingly difficult for your boss to agree to you working similarly, unless you come up with a really good plan to make it work.

Laura: Well said – Be realistic – It’s how you present your case. Be honest, think it through very carefully, test childcare arrangements, think of all the reasons your employer may not be able to accommodate your request, and be proactive with solutions. Make sure that it will work for your family, think it through, get the right advice – it doesn’t matter what your neighbour or parents think they don’t know your situation, only you do.

If you can – speak to other people in the department that manage flexible working successfully, take them for a coffee and get the real picture for your company – ups and downs and how they manage things. It is logistics not emotions that count, and if you agree to something you can’t fulfil further down the line, then everyone suffers.

Annabel: Don’t be over ambitious in what you propose. If you exhaust yourself and really mess up your job, you can put yourself under enormous pressure. You need to be realistic about what you can achieve within the given time/arrangements. I often come across women who get part time working, but then work full time and more to keep up with the targets and goals they have agreed to. If you go part time, you will be on part time money. Be realistic about what can be achieved in the working time that you have.

Do you have a query that you’d like Laura or Annabel to answer? Follow this link and post your question for them –

(c)2011 copyright Irenicon Ltd and BabyLadies Ltd respectively. All rights reserved

Posted by on 26/07/2011 09:48:00

Take your foot off the gas!

We live in an age of high speed communication, multi tasking and information overload where life has changed in one generation and is now conducted at a hurtling pace with demands my mother would have found inconceivable.

Our nervous systems are so over stimulated by these demands, relaxation time is never truly relaxing and time out to think creatively can be impossible because our brains are still thinking about what we haven’t done or what there is to do.

When I ask the people I coach or counsel to write out the amount of tasks or commitments they expect to fulfil in one week, you can almost see their heads spin like Tim Burton when he played Beetlejuice! Try it, see how far you get. Include everything from dog walking, commuting, changing your energy supplier etc.etc.

This life is making people sick.The number of people coming to me with stress issues, failing relationships and unhappy teenagers has doubled.

So, in the last two years I have been working with Benedictine monks, Deepak Chopra and Reiki masters to help my clients restore balance in their lives and create a safe calm place where they can think through ‘their’ priorities in life and not those thrust upon us by the media,peer pressure or another self help book on achievement, and goal setting.

If you feel guilty, stressed, bad, a failure, anxious, angry, vindictive, depressed, unwell, actually you are showing a normal response to living a life which is attempting to meet expectations which are not yours. Of course we all will be expected to fulfil others expectations or deliver results in line with our responsibilities but taken to excess,or unrealistic, these expectations start to become damaging.

So, this week, pick one thing you can let go. Say no to a request. Edit your Facebook site. Take your foot off the gas. Go slower, get better, get freer. be you.

Posted by on 26/07/2011 11:35:09

Balancing the Bump – Redundancy and maternity

Annabel: While women are making their maternity plans and working out how to return full time, make a flexible working request and so on, employers themselves are making plans and responding to events. Recently a lot of those plans have included redundancy.

Laura: It is a really tough time for everyone at the moment. I had an enquiry recently from a small business owner who was so worried about a member of staff announcing her pregnancy. As part of her job role she needed to lift heavy items and he didn’t have an alternative role. The ironic thing was that the woman no longer wanted to work there and was really stressing about how to tell them that she wanted to leave. In a smaller environment it pays to talk early on.

Annabel: We often get employers trying to use redundancy as a way round a difficult situation. Redundancy is a form of dismissal, and if it is not done for genuine reasons, it can lead to unfair dismissal, even discrimination claims. There are a lot of myths out there about who is entitled to what. Some pregnant women believe they can’t be dismissed for redundancy or anything else. Some managers know that women on maternity leave have additional rights but aren’t sure what.

Laura: There is certainly a belief that once you are pregnant and have announced it you can’t be ‘touched.’ My experience is that companies, although more sensitive to the possibility of a lawyer’s letter, will still make a pregnant member of staff redundant if they have a valid case to do so. It may seem insensitive, but it is no worse than letting go a new father that is also responsible for a family income. These decisions are rarely taken lightly. What pregnancy can’t be is an excuse to make someone redundant because they can’t do the job they are paid to do.

Annabel: We often get employers discovering that the maternity locum is better than the regular employee, or that life is so much easier without a particular individual, but without a good record of problems and attempts to remedy them, any rapid action is bound to end in a tribunal claim. Maternity leave is a moment when a lot of performance management issues` come home to roost’ and earlier failure to tackle problems in real time can cause complications. It is bound to appear that pregnancy is the real issue if there is nothing to contradict this, and let’s face it, sometimes it is.

Laura: So are there any special rights for pregnant women, or are they just entitled to be treated the same as everyone else?

Annabel: From conception to return to work at the end of maternity leave, women are protected from being treated worse than non pregnant females or male colleagues because of their pregnancy. A pregnant woman caught red handed for theft for example could not say her dismissal was because of her pregnancy. A woman can be treated appropriately for her actions or the status of her role whilst pregnant. That means she can be put at risk of, or even selected for redundancy.

Laura: Is that it? Why do we hear such a fuss about this in the media then?

Annabel: Women do have additional redundancy rights once they start maternity leave. During the entire period they are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative role if vacant. Ordinary employees at risk of redundancy are entitled to be considered for alternative roles, which means they come second in the queue. Offers should be made during maternity leave. The woman will then be on leave from her new role. Employers who wait until the time to return and then find all their alternative roles are gone may find themselves on the wrong end of a tribunal claim.

Do you have a query that you’d like Laura or Annabel to answer? Follow this link and post your question for them –

Posted by on 22/07/2011 12:39:15

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