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InWork Toolkit launched at November EU-wide Conference in Amsterdam

A successful EU wide conference was held in Amsterdam in November to launch the InWork Toolkit and Resources.

The conference was the final action of the InWork project, where Social Firms UK partnered with organisations from the Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.

Expert speakers included Social Firms UK CEO Michele Rigby, Social Firms UK members Sarah Sharlott from Realise Futures, John Foster from Emmaus Gloucester, as well as Vina Patel from Social Firms Wales, and national experts Nicky Stevenson and Paul Anders from Drugscope.

InWork Project - improving the participation of marginalised groups on the labour market.

INWORK is a European project, financed through the Grundtvig Life Long Learning Programme of the European Commission. The project aims to improve the participation of marginalised groups in the labour market.

Marginalised and vulnerable groups, such as drug users, homeless people, people with psychiatric problems or (ex) offenders still have a large distance to the labour market in most European countries. Their educational level is often low, they have little opportunities to participate in schooling and employment and there are only few initiatives that increase or improve the participation of these groups in the paid or unpaid labour market.

The INWORK project joined the forces, skills and experiences of the project partners to address the issues of active citizenship, participation, self-reliance and integration in the labour market at the European level.

Employment law changes - on the horizon

Do you know about planned Employment Law changes?

Acas helps you get to grips with what is happening. 

Shared parental leave: for parents of children born or matched for adoption on or after 5 April 2015 - launch date 1 December 2014.

Managing sickness absence: a health and work assessment and advisory service is to be introduced - launch date April 2015.

Are you eligible for a £3,000 grant to upgrade your broadband?

Find out now if you are eligible for up to £3,000 to cover the installation costs of upgrading to a faster and more reliable connection for your business. You could get a fibre optic, cable or wireless broadband connection among other options.

Most businesses pay nothing but VAT and their standard monthly charges.

Thousands of businesses in the 22 Super Connected Cities Programme are already benefitting from the scheme. By upgrading, you too could:

• Do things faster - increase your business’s productivity,

• Improve customer service,

• Access new markets using video conferencing.

Visit the Connection Vouchers website to find out if you are eligible and choose from a number of pre-defined options.

How to prepare for a challenging conversation

Very few of us like to have difficult conversations, we may put them off and this can cause issues to escalate. The Acas guide ‘Challenging conversations and how to manage them’ gives some top tips on how to prepare for and get the most from the conversation. It's free to download from the Acas website.

Six things you need to do when employing staff for the first time

Taking on an employee means there are things you need to check, not just when they start working for you, but each year too.

Deciding how much to pay someone or checking if they have the legal right to work in the UK are just some of the things you need to consider.

HMRC provides information to help you decide what you need to do to get things right.

  1. Read about six things you need to do when employing staff for the first time
  2. See if you can reduce the amount of National Insurance you pay with the Employment Allowance
  3. Check that you are paying your worker the National Minimum Wage here: National Minimum Wage calculator for employers

If you have any questions about employing staff, you can ask HMRC on Twitter @HMRCbusiness.  

Third Sector Loan Fund Launches

The Fund invests between £250,000 and £3 million in charities and social enterprises across the UK. The Fund can support organisations across all social sectors, focused on improving the economic and social well-being of individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.

To be eligible for investment, your organisation must demonstrate the following:

Nine misconceptions about social investment

CAF bust nine myths in a helpful Guardian article about social investment. They consider these nine preconceptions:

  1.  Social investment is a form of income for charities
  2. Loans are risky for charities
  3. Social investment is rigid and offers little flexibility
  4. Loan finance is unaffordable
  5. It is complex and difficult to understand
  6. The social investment sector is new
  7. It’s only suited to large organisations who have significant financial resources
  8. The investment process is burdensome
  9. The market is focused on London  

Calculating holiday pay

In addition to current legislation, a number of recent court judgments should be considered when calculating holiday pay. This may mean that the rules employers and workers follow to calculate their own holiday pay will need to be updated. ACAS are updating their information.

The Government Exchange

A one-day event matching small businesses with buyers from government departments and large government suppliers looking for small business contractors.

Government (local and central) spends £230bn per year on products and services. Government has set a goal that 25% of this spend should be with small businesses by 2015. Attend this event  on 8th December 2014 to understand the opportunities available to your company to sell to government or their largest suppliers.