SME Agony Uncle: Bobby Kerr answers all your business and work-related questions


Each week broadcaster, entrepreneur and agony uncle Bobby Kerr joins The Hard Shoulder to answer all your employment-related questions.

Kicking things off with the weather this week and the question of whether or not people should still be paid if they can't make it to work because of the snow, cancelled transport, etc... 

Technically, an employer has no obligation to pay someone if they can't make it to work because of the weather, according to Bobby. That is not to say that this is what people can expect if weather conditions worsen this week, of course. Bobby says that in his experience, most employers do pay employees in situations like what we may see this week or Storm Ophelia.

Bobby advises all business owners to have a plan and communicate it to your staff in advance. Employers have a duty of care and need to consider whether or not it is safe for employees to be coming to work. 

I own a business that has grown from 5-50 people over the last five years. Our canteen has become a problem. I've provided free tea and coffee to employees since day one and space and a fitted kitchen. The place is often left in a disgusting state  and I've issued repeated warnings but to no avail. I'm tempted to remove the facilities but I want to be a good employer. 

Bobby says this sounds like this employer is doing good for their employees but with 50 people, it should be easy to identify who is responsible as it's probably a minority. Bobby suggests closing it for a week to express her dismay at the situation as it might make people realise the value of the facilities they are being given when they are taken away for a period of time.

I'm 59, built a good business and my key managers have made a decent offer to buy out the business. I'm considering it. I've always worked hard and been busy. They have offered me a role as non-executive chairman but I'm worried that my views could be strong and we might end up in disagreement. Alternatively, I'm worried that I might be bored senseless not being in work every day.  

Bobby says it sounds like this person isn't ready to retire and if he isn't, he shouldn't. He sounds tempted by the offer for the business but he's not ready to take it yet. Bobby suggests he might be able to arrange a deferred payment that could trigger in two years. In the case of he non-executive role, Bobby says he is not a non-executive so his views could be too strong or black and white for this suggested role. 

My company have recently embarked on a fitness program for all employees and an external company is involved in providing fitness classes at lunchtime and after work. I agree with the initiative, I'm a few pounds overweight myself and I do believe that a physically fit workforce leads to a much more agile and stronger business. My problem is this - I am uncomfortable in classes with my boss who is a middle aged man in his Lycra gear  as well as the guys from the warehouse who are known for their crude humour. Any advice as I feel conflicted?

Bobby got expert advice on this from Mark O'Reilly in Fitvision, which provides wellbeing services to businesses. Mark says that they have been met with this same issue when delivering programs before. He says that you'll soon realise in an exercise class that once it's started, most people's only concern in themselves. Enjoying and surviving the class becomes the objective rather than taking notice of anyone else around you. Mark added that you should remember in these situations that everyone is there for the same common goal, which is to get healthier. 

You can listen back to all of Bobby’s employment advice from Tuesday’s The Hard Shoulder here:

If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to [email protected]

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