Monday, 25 September 2017

Of One Special Day Out and Possibly Many More

Anna and I enjoyed the last of her birthday treats over the weekend which was a horse riding trip over Whitesands Bay on the north coast of Northern Ireland.

We were in the expert hands of Shean's Horse Farm which with over 50 horses in stock were well able to find a horse docile yet strong enough to carry my weight and take me safely about. "Flo" was on her best behaviour for the duration of the excursion with the exception of the last 5 minutes when she "took a notion" all to herself and went galloping off at speed up the hillside. Firm words from her rider assisted by a very steep field soon brought her back to a light trot then her usual leisurely walk.
Anna's horse "Charlie" was impeccably well behaved and did exactly what he was told to do although he wasn't too fussed about getting more than his 
hooves wet.

This one-off treat proved so good I have a feeling it could lead to a very expensive hobby indeed. But it proved to be a truly great day and has given Anna one more thing to add to her Russian Tour Guide NI website

Monday, 18 September 2017

Belfast Speakers' Circle & Gratitude

Ballintoy Beach sunrise Sunday 17 Sept
I’m speaking tonight at the first meeting of the year of the Belfast Speakers’ Circle.

My topic for my ten minute speech will be gratitude. I’ll talk about how poor we are at saying thank you for the positive things that other people do for us or send our way.  I’m also going to introduce everyone to my “gratitude jar”. This is a jar that sits in your house and every time you or anyone living with you has a reason to feel grateful for something they write it down and pop it into the jar. Once a month or so everyone gathers together, reads out and discusses the contents of the jar.
There’s something about the emotional positivity that comes with feeling grateful for something. It’s hard to feel depressed or in a low mood when recalling whatever is great in your life.

Into my jar yesterday I popped a note about the Saturday night I had just had. I’d spent it with my wife and daughter on a mat in a double sleeping bag on Ballintoy Beach gazing up at a beautiful sky packed full of stars next to a roaring campfire. Gratitude only just begins to cover what I'm feeling about that experience right now.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Of Diversity & Inclusion in the Air

Too fat to fly hey?

We heard today that a Russian woman is suing Aeroflot for dropping her from lucrative long haul flights on account of her size. Her bosses told her she didn't meet the size limit Aeroflot had set for its cabin crew.: a UK size 14.
Evgenia Magurina claims a number of other flight attendants suffered the same treatment, calling themselves the STS club after the Russian words for “old, fat & ugly”.
Instead of long trips abroad, they joked that they had been relegated to night flights around of Novgorod, "so no-one will see us".
Evgenia Magurina  stated :
"They put appearance in first place. But stewardesses are rescuers above all," she insists. "Imagine if they had the same requirements for judges or doctors? It would be absurd."

Russian employment claims are by no means common and difficult to take. It’ll be interesting to watch how this develops and whether Aeroflot seeks to settle it quickly or fight it out.

A person’s size is not currently one of the nine protected grounds of discrimination although for some it’s a sure bet to become category No.10 at some stage.

Legal-Island’s own e-learning on diversity and inclusion in the workplace can be found at our website

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Of Safeguarding in Northern Ireland Schools

It’s all happening in the world of safeguarding in Northern Ireland at the moment. We’ve seen important new legislation such as the Special Needs and Disability Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (SEND Act). This places new duties on Boards of Governors, the Education Authority and health and social services authorities when dealing with those with special needs. Secondary legislation and a code of practice are expected soon.

Two new documents have produced welcome clarification and additions recently too. These are “Co-operating to Safeguard Children 2016” and “Safeguarding and Child Protection in Schools – A Guide for Schools”. The former document provides the overarching policy framework for safeguarding children and young people in the statutory, private, independent, community, voluntary and faith sectors. The latter publication provides wide ranging guidance on safeguarding and child protection within the school environment. It is relevant to Board of Governors, Principals and all staff including paid and unpaid, non teaching staff and volunteers.

Significantly the two documents set out an additional type of child abuse that of Exploitation This is defined as :

the intentional ill-treatment, manipulation or abuse of power and control over a child or young person; to take selfish or unfair advantage of a child or young person or situation, for personal gain. It may manifest itself in many forms such as child labour, slavery, servitude, engagement in criminal activity, begging, benefit or other financial fraud or child trafficking. It extends to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation can be sexual in nature”.

Whilst many of the activities now captured by this new definition would have fallen under one or more of the previous four abuse categories this development is to be welcomed. 

Legal-Island’s own e-learning module on Safeguarding in Northern Ireland Schools is now by far the most popular online resource tool in the area of child protection here and regarded by many as one of the most important developments in training in this critical area for a very long time.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Of Preparing for GDPR - it's probably not as easy as you think....?!

All the talk at the moment is about the GDPR. My experience of having worked in the area of compliance law for more than 20 years is that some laws are taken seriously and some are not. The new Regulation due in force next May definitely belongs to the former category. Here's how one top practitioner in Northern Ireland is advising employers to be GDPR ready. Thanks to Anna Flanagan of Pinsent Masons for this information


1.     Identify the lawful basis for processing all personal data and keep a record of this
You should bear in mind the record-keeping obligations under the GDPR and start keeping a record of the lawful basis for processing all personal data.
The conditions for processing have slightly changed – review the changes and ensure your organisation can use one before processing data.
Try to avoid consent as unlikely to be valid in an employer/employee relationship. Update your privacy notice to include the reason for processing (new requirement under GDPR);
Examine Retention periods of personal data
Look at our long your organisation holds onto to personal data, (particularly for example for ex-employees or unsuccessful applicants for job vacancies.)
Think about whether you have a logical reason for your current retention periods (if there are such periods). Does this reason apply to all the personal data you hold, or could some be deleted? The GDPR does not specify particular retention periods, but the general principle not to hold on to data longer than necessary remains.
Update Subject Access Request Policy
There is now a shorter timeframe for response (one month) and no fee payable, make sure your policy reflects this;
Can your organisation comply with Individuals new rights under GDPR? 
There are new data subject rights including the "right to be forgotten" or right to erasure (Article 17) which are building on current rights confirmed in case-law, and additionally, right to "data portability" (Article 20).
Ensure you have the appropriate policy and technology in place to recognise and comply with any of these requests within the relevant timescale.  
Train Staff
Roll out a training programme for staff on all the new GDPR implications ensuring they are aware of the relevant policies and changes.  Given that organisations are increasingly vulnerable to the risk of loss, damage or destruction of their data and the new requirement to notify the ICO within 72 hours of a breach, particularly ensure that staff are trained on how to keep data secure.
Join the many organisations who now do this training online. Not only do they find it more convenient and cost effective but it also generates a real time record of all training activity completed by staff.
Transfer of Data
Examine where Personal Data is transferred, including to Cloud/Storage providers. Look at all Personal Data outsourcing which could include long-term storage/archiving (where appropriate), payroll etc. Work out where the Personal Data is held and whether that is inside or outside of the EEA. Find out if there are appropriate contracts in place and if not consider or take advice on what mechanisms can be used to regularise transfers under the GDPR.
Special Categories of Data

Your organisation is very likely to hold "Sensitive Personal Data" for example relating to data subjects disability, ethnicity, religion or health. Consider whether your organisation has any special security measures in place for the processing and transfer of this type of information in particular. 

Our own e-learning modules on Data Protection in the workplace and getting ready for GDPR are also available online.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Of The Unstoppable Sharapova

I'm listening to an interview with Maria Sharapova at the moment. She's impressive.
She talks about her pep talks between each shot and explains that she sees herself as water on a river that will get past the rocks or other obstacles eventually one way or the other.
She mentioned a match she was playing recently. She was in the third set and a game down . Her "self talk" was "I can't" "I can't do this". When she changed it to "I can" and "I will" and she noticed her body language changed immediately and she started winning points again.
She has been the highest earning female athlete for the past 10 years so she's clearly a great business woman as well as tennis player.
You can catch the interview on the Tim Ferris Show podcast. She has a new book out called Unstoppable.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Of Tools of Titans Part VIII

So I’ve finally finished reading “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss and just as I suspected at the beginning of the read it has become one of my favourite business reads of all time. I agree with Ferriss it is his best book by far and the others that came before it have been both plentiful and pretty good too.

What follows are my final favourite nuggets of wisdom. Thank you to everyone who has shared their thoughts with me on this book

If I could only subtract to solve a problem what would I take away?
As Einstein once said problem solving is really about making sure you’re asking yourself the right questions.
Ferriss says “I’ve since applied this “What if I could only subtract …?” to my life in many areas and I and I sometimes rephrase it as “What should I put on my not-to-do list?

Am I hunting antelope or field mice?

The point Ferriss makes here is that the tiger that goes after field mice because they’re more plentiful and easier to catch than antelope will eventually die. For their bodyweight does not carry enough calories to justify the effort to catch and kill them. This is closely aligned to the advice not to be busy at the wrong things although of course Ferriss questions whether describing yourself as busy is at all advisable.

What about goal setting?

Type A personalities have goal pursuit as default hardwiring. This is excellent for producing achievement but also anxiety as you’re constantly  future-focused. I’ve personally decided that achievement is no more than a passing grade in life. It’s a C+ that gets you limping along to the next grade. For anything more, and certainly for anything approaching happiness you have to want what you already have.

How can I throw money at this problem?

Okay Ferriss is coming at this issue from a position of considerable wealth. But he argues if you can afford to pay someone to cut the grass then do it. For what you are really buying here is your own time. In the 10 minutes or 50 it would have taken to mow the lawn you could have been reading Pushkin, playing with the kids or chillaxing with your favourite coffee chatting to your soul mate.