Thought Leader: Anna Harvey on Employment Law
From detailing her previous experience in the employment law sector, to discussing the importance of wellbeing in the workplace, clientfocused UK lawyer Anna Harvey here talks to Lawyer Monthly about the employment sector in Britain, her and her firm’s thought leadership therein, and what in her opinion could be the potential implications of a Brexit.
How do you apply your own experiences and life-walk in achieving the best possible results for your clients at Price Bailey?
Prior to working for Price Bailey Legal Services, I ran a successful boutique employment law firm, and a legal and HR consultancy business. I am now able to use the invaluable experience and understanding I gained from running my own businesses to provide pragmatic and relevant advice to my business clients. When clients struggle with recruiting that key individual, struggle to build and maintain relationships of trust, or struggle to reach the right balance between organisational wellbeing and employee wellbeing, I understand, and can empathise. As a result this allows me to become more than just a lawyer to my clients, but a trusted adviser.
My professional journey has given me a greater understanding and knowledge of business which has further helped me to identify the direct correlation between employee engagement and the productivity and efficiency of a business or organisation. For a business to be successful, it must ensure that it gives equal attention to the wellbeing of its staff (that is taking steps to ensure employees are able to maintain a good work life balance, that they are healthy, they are content and engaged) as it does to the wellbeing of the organisation (that is the financial status, its profitability, productivity and efficiency). In essence, a business owner, a Board of Directors, or Trustees must understand that better workplaces will equal better financial results.
At Price Bailey Legal Services we have become thought leaders in this area of workplace wellbeing by incorporating the important issue and its key principles in the way we deliver employment law services.
We are often questioned “why are you discussing wellbeing as lawyers” – the answer – because as employment lawyers and ultimately trusted advisers with a vast amount of experience and knowledge with a variety of businesses and industries, we understand its significance to businesses and organisations, and can help with putting in place workplace strategies.
What are the key priorities you advise businesses to consider in the UK employment landscape?
It is our aim for our clients to have a mind-set shift from believing productivity and profitability is the key to its success, and instead understanding that the key to its success is its people, their wellbeing and engagement.
This is a message we regularly pass on to our clients and we recently held an event with Dame Carol Black as our keynote speaker. Dame Carol Black is a renowned expert on the subject of workplace wellbeing, being an Expert Adviser on Health and Work to NHS England and Public Health England, amongst other roles. The vital messages delivered at this event were key features common to organisations which have improved health, wellbeing, resilience and engagement of staff, including accountable trained managers who empower staff and enable engagement. Evidence shows that resources should first be focused on training line managers rather than just introducing wellbeing schemes such as providing fruit or implementing cycle to work schemes. It is our intention to host three further events with Dame Carol near to our other offices, including in London, to continue to deliver this message.
If I could implement particular legislation, it would be on this issue, to ensure workplace wellbeing is no longer seen as ‘soft and fluffy’ but that it obtains the attention it deserves. With Dame Carol Black continuing to present the government with compelling evidence on this subject, I think it is definitely worth watching this space!
The other factor that differentiates Price Bailey Legal Services from other law firms is that it sits within a firm of Accountants. It is an innovative set up and allows us to provide innovative services that add value to and benefit our clients. Our clients are able to seek complimentary services and advice across the Price Bailey Group, all under one roof. We have recently been able to assist a global property investment company by providing a complete business outsourcing package including, payroll, bookkeeping, management accounting, HR advice and assistance. In addition, we have offered advice and assistance on technical legal matters involved in the transaction, together with strategic financial and commercial advice.
What can we expect further in terms of regulatory developments in the UK employment law landscape, particularly now following the Brexit decision?
Brexit has brought a number of uncertainties to business, but it is my view that UK employment law is unlikely to fundamentally change by our leaving the EU. It is likely that any changes that are made will assist businesses and will be made in order to trigger economic growth. Expected changes may involve removing the particularly onerous provisions of the legislation relating to collective redundancies and business purchases and acquisitions.
What I do expect is clients may need more assistance with international transactions and dealings. Increasingly businesses are having an international presence and moving workforces and employees across jurisdictions can present a number of problems. Price Bailey Legal Services have therefore developed our global mobility services offering to assist our clients with these problems. The benefit for us too (and ultimately our clients) is that we not only are able to deliver the employment law advice and assistance but we can further offer tax advice and assistance and a wealth of knowledge from both our accountants and lawyers on such matters. We expect to see more clients requiring this service as global business continues to evolve.