How Workplace Movement Boosts Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week is here, and this year’s theme is moving more for our mental health. One of the most important things we can do for our mind is move. Our bodies and mind are intertwined, so regular physical activity would not only improve your mental wellbeing but also help prevent issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and so much more. Regular exercise can offer an outlet for all your frustrations and stress, improving your sense of control and elevating your energy levels. Keeping active doesn’t always have to be intensive exercise and playing sports, putting on your favourite music and dancing could go a long way in making a difference in terms of improving your mood and thinking patterns.

Maintaining your mental health is especially important in the workplace. According to BMC Public Health, office workers spend up to 80% of their time sitting down, leading to poor physical health, and undermining mental well-being.  Luckily, there are several approaches companies can take to promote movement and mental well-being.

For instance, employers could educate employees on the importance of physical activity. This could include implementing workshops to enhance morale and team building or providing staff with educational resources to improve employee health awareness. Employees appreciate employers who invest in their health and well-being, so this would be exceptionally beneficial as it would lead to increased mental well-being and, therefore, happier staff and productivity in the workplace.  

Organising regular group activities has multiple benefits too.  Small activity-challenges can be incorporated into a competition which helps team building as well as befits health.  Another option could be organising a lunchtime walk for staff members or encouraging “walking meetings” which can improve innovation and open communication, especially for managers who spend a lot of time in meetings.  Regular group activities at work can offer an opportunity to socialise, creating a sense of community within the workplace, and, in time, reduce stress and lead to a healthy mind.  Standing desks, cycle to work schemes or and even posters reminding staff to move can all help as well.

As Mental Health Awareness Week emphasises the importance of movement for our well-being, it’s evident that staying active has it’s benefits for both our bodies and our minds.

Unlocking the Doors to Professional Growth: A Student’s Perspective on Interning with us!

Working at Aston Bond has been an incredible experience. I was welcomed into the office with a level of professionalism and attention that really made a lasting impression on me. The chance to work in a variety of different sectors at the firm was one of the most amazing aspects of this experience. I was able to gain practical experience in a range of legal processes, whether it was through document drafting, case reading or legal research.

I learnt a lot of useful skills and gained extensive knowledge while working at Aston Bond. I had the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals who were always willing to share their experiences. I gained knowledge in how to critically evaluate and analyse complicated legal matters, and effectively communicate. These abilities have improved my academic endeavours and will be beneficial to me in my future legal career.

The firm made this experience very comfortable for me by the supportive and collaborative environment. Working closely with a diverse and talented team allowed me to develop professionally and I was able to broaden my knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the legal industry.

Overall, I had an incredible experience working at Aston Bond. It gave me useful experience, insightful knowledge, and a greater understanding of the path I intend to take in the future of my legal career. I am grateful for the opportunity that was given to me, and I would like to thank everyone here for the experience.

By Riqayya Hussain

At Aston Bond, we offer an extensive work experience program designed to give aspiring professionals a direct insight into our dynamic industry. To apply, simply send your CV and cover letter to Please ensure that your cover letter also includes your desired dates of participation. We can’t wait to welcome students to our team!

Choosing your Legal Ally

In today’s fast-paced world, the legal landscape is growing alongside advancements in technology and changing client preferences. When facing legal matters, one of the most important decisions clients need to make is who to seek guidance from, whether it’s with an online solicitor or a local solicitor. Both options come with their own set of benefits and limitations, influencing how legal services are obtained and provided in today’s contemporary society.

Today, we explore into the dynamic comparisons between the two. Whether this is your first legal journey or you’re considering new legal representation, understanding the two approaches can allow you to make an informed decision.

Here, we navigate the complexities of choosing your legal ally, comparing the accessibility of online solicitors with the personalised expertise of local solicitors.

Online Solicitors Local Solicitors
Strengths -Easy Communication
Online solicitors communicate through various digital platforms which means you can get advice from anywhere with internet.

-Lower Client Fees
Because online solicitors have lower overhead costs, they can charge lower fees for their clients.

-Immediate Communication
Due to online platforms allowing quicker communication through emails, messaging, and video calls, you can collaborate with your online solicitor much more efficiently.

Online solicitors may offer expertise in niche areas.

Because everything is online, you can manage your legal affairs at your own pace.

-Personalised Service
Local solicitors offer more tailored advice as they get to know each client individually and build strong relationships with each client.

-In-depth Knowledge of Local Laws
Local solicitors have a much deeper understanding of regional laws and regulations for the areas they are based in, which means they can provide a more valuable insight.

-Offer Face-to-Face Consultations
Offering in-person meetings means that there will be clearer, enhanced communication, introducing the element of trust, which is essential for solicitor-client relationships.

-Community Connections
Local solicitors are often well-connected within their community, which is beneficial because it grants access to resources and knowledge of local practices.

Local firms are staying current with technology by incorporating video call meetings, as well as in-person consultations, so there isn’t always the need to travel to the office.

-Courtroom Experience
Local solicitors may have more experience with local courts, and would, therefore, better understand the procedures, improving their ability to represent clients effectively.
Weaknesses-Limited Personal Interactions
Because online solicitors lack face-to-face meetings, it is harder for them to build rapport and gain trust from their clients.

-Communication Challenges
Being based solely online could be challenging as sometimes technology might not always be reliable and can cause delays or misunderstandings. It is also harder for elderly clients to use technology.

-Potential Security Risks
Sending sensitive legal documents could have some privacy concerns as you might not trust the person you are sending it to.

-Limited Local Knowledge
Online solicitors might lack familiarity with local laws and regulations, which could impact the quality of advice you receive.

-Difficult in Complex Cases
Some complex cases may require extensive collaboration, which might be challenging to achieve solely online.
-Higher Client Fees
Because local solicitors have higher overhead costs, they may charge their client higher fees.

-Limited Specialisation
Some local solicitors may lack specialised expertise, particularly in niche areas, which limits the quality of advice.

-Potential for Delays
Local solicitors often have busy schedules and caseloads, which can impact case progression.

-Dependency on Reputation
The reputation and track record of local solicitors may vary, which just means you need to research the firm carefully before you decide who to use.

When weighing the pros and cons of online versus local solicitors, it is clear that both offer unique experiences. Ultimately, the choice depends on the nature of the legal matter, your personal preferences, and the level of personal interaction and expertise desired.

If you need any assistance with a quote or query, don’t hesitate to contact Aston Bond on 01753 486 777!

What is the Right to Disconnect? Exploring boundaries in the Digital Age

In a world dominated by constant connectivity and technology, the lines between work and personal life have blurred. This is especially due to the rise of remote work as a result of the pandemic.

Many workers found themselves at home, answering emails and scheduling work calls many hours after their normal working day had ended.  This caused employees to have less time to unwind and de-stress, ultimately leading to less sleep.

This ever-growing phenomenon has led the Labour party to consider “The Right to Disconnect”, a proposal that allows employees to detach from work outside of their regular contracted hours.

This would mean that once an employee has finished their shift or regular working hours, they should not receive or respond to any calls, emails, or messages that are work-related.  The proposed Bill would actively restrict employers from contacting employees outside of their contracted hours.

At this stage there are no details given so it is unclear whether this will be a strict rule or whether certain exceptions would be in-built into the legislation.  Employers are hopeful that there will be sensible rules allowing contact if there is a real need, especially for senior employees who might need to be available outside of working hours.

The Labour Party has however emphasised the pressing need to define the boundary between personal time and work in our digitally overwhelmed age.

Moving forward, maintaining a balance that respects both professional responsibilities and personal boundaries will be key to encouraging a healthier and sustainable workplace culture.  

April 2024 changes in employment law

April is the time of the new financial year, a time when (usually at least!) spring has sprung, and a time when employers and HR professionals are updating their guidance and advice on all things employment law.

Here is a run-down of just some of the latest developments which came into force on 6th April 2024.

The statutory cap on a week’s pay (for the purposes of calculating a redundancy payment or the basic award in unfair dismissal claims) is now £700.

The Vento bands have also been updated.  The Vento bands are used as a guidance to assess how much compensation should be awarded in discrimination claims in the employment Tribunal.  These are now: 

  • a lower band of £1,200 to £11,700 (less serious cases);
  • a middle band of £11,700 to £35,200 (cases that do not merit an award in the upper band); and
  • an upper band of £35,200 to £58,700 (the most serious cases), with the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £58,700.

Holiday pay must now be calculated using the averaged total remuneration (including commission and bonuses).

It’s now a day one right to request flexible working (and 2 requests can be made per year).

Redundancy protection is being extended to pregnant employees and those recently returning from family leave.

Employees with caring responsibilities will have the right to take up to one week’s unpaid leave during a year to provide or arrange care for a dependant.

For any assistance with how these work in practice or to ensure you aren’t falling foul of new legislation, please contact our Head of Employment, Ilinca Mardarescu on or call our office.

Part-year workers holiday pay entitlement

In the Supreme Court case of Harpur Trust v Brazel (2022) UKSC 21, an important appeal
was raised on the issue of statutory leave requirements for part-year workers. To clarify
part-year employees are those with ongoing contracts who work a variety of hours only
during certain weeks of the year.

The facts were that Mrs Brazel, a music teacher at a school, run by the Harpur Trust, was
employed on a permanent contract but for term times only. Mrs Brazel was accepted as a
worker by Harpur Trust, and as such, she was entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave per
year, provided she took her annual leave during the school holidays, when she was not
required to teach. However, Harpur Trust argued that to account for the weeks not worked,
a part-year employees holiday entitlement needed to be further pro-rated. This was the
reasoning behind Harpur Trust changing its way of calculating her holiday pay to the
percentage method of calculating her pay according to 12.07 of her usual pay. The new
calculation meant that Mrs Brazel was essentially being paid less than she had previously

The Supreme Court rejected the trust’s claims and confirmed that part-year employees,
regardless of their working hours and regardless of the proportion of each year they work,
are fully entitled to the 5.6 weeks of vacation time. Additionally, their holiday pay must be
based on the calendar week method of averaging a week’s working hours. Since there was
no provision in the Working Time Regulation of 1998 allowing for pro-rated holiday
entitlement for part-year employees.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that this approach favoured workers who work unusual
hours, but it does not result in an irrational outcome that necessitates a complete overhaul
of the legal framework. Furthermore, the Supreme Court found several flaws in the Harpur
Trust’s proposed methods of pro-rating a part-time worker, which would have necessitated
complicated calculations, requiring all employers to keep detailed records of every hour
worked, even if they are not paid on an hourly basis.

Thus, the decision only impacts workers engaged in permanent part-year contracts.
Particularly the education sector, where many individuals work term time only, e.g.,
teachers with irregular hours or those in the education sectors. As a result of this Supreme
Court ruling, potentially employers could face claims of unlawful deduction from wages,
which could go back up to two years.

It should be noted that the average casual worker on a zero-hour contract will be
unaffected, as they will only be entitled to paid vacation based on the number of weeks
worked. Moreover, part-time employees who work 52 weeks a year but for fewer hours or
days than full-time employees can also have their vacation calculated pro rata. Furthermore,
it does not affect fixed-term employees, whose holidays will continue to be calculated pro-
rata for the duration of the contract.

London Legal Walk 2022

Well done to our team who took part in the London Legal Walk yesterday to raise much needed funds for free legal services.  Access to such legal services is crucial right now with more people hitting the poverty line so our team where only too happy to do all they could to raise much needed funds.

The weather held out beautifully and the event was back to pre-pandemic proportions making it even more enjoyable for all.  Our team walked from The Law Society building in London, down the embankment, past St James’ park and the palace and through Hyde Park and back round again taking in some beautiful sights.  A much needed drink was had at the street party afterwards.

Donations are still being accepted and would be gratefully received on;
Here’s to next years’ event!


Planes, Trains and Automobiles

With a week (if not more!) of travel disruption looming; tube strikes, train strikes, and even delays on flights over the summer period, these will all affect employers and employees alike.  But what can employers do in these situations?


The starting point for all parties concerned is discussing and being upfront about the potential problems each can foresee due to the upcoming disruptions.  Employers will need to ensure the business is able to continue but must accept problems will inevitably arise.  These can be planned for in advance by considering alternatives.  Working from Home is an obvious example for those that are able and whose business permits, but many businesses are unable to accommodate that.  Altering shift patterns during strikes or even pre-booking taxis or a hotel nearby for certain members of staff may be other options to consider.


Employers would also have the option to enforce annual leave for employees who will be unable to attend work.  However, employers should bear in mind this will be an unpopular option, albeit perfectly legal.


There are no specific legal requirements governing what businesses must do in these situations – the onus is in fact on the employee to get to work.  If an employee does not show up for work, it is classed as an unauthorised absence and an employee will not be entitled to be paid.  However, disciplining an employee for failure to attend when the situation is out of their control is also likely to be considered unreasonable.


Ideally, employers should have a policy in place for dealing with travel disruptions. Such a travel policy would cover when employees will/will not be paid so that expectations can be managed, the steps you expect them to take in such situations (i.e. making clear annual leave may be enforced) and can provide other options to be considered.  A travel policy is highly likely to reduce the risk of disputes arising between employers and employees however, so is always advisable – especially when such strikes look set to continue over a prolonged period.


For any assistance with this or other employment law matters, please contact out Head of Employment, Ilinca Mardarescu.

Musk, Twitter and the EU – a fight waiting to start?

Elon Musk recently made headlines yet again in relation to a potential $44bn deal to take Twitter private. As part of this, he has plans to remove what he sees as limits to free speech on the platform.


Should the deal go through, and should Musk stick to his plans to scale back Twitter’s moderation policies, he will be set on a collision course with the EU, who recently introduced new laws requiring big tech companies to take a more active stance on tackling hate speech, misinformation, and illegal activities on their platforms. The penalty for not complying with these new, tougher rules is a substantial fine going up to 20% of global annual turnover for repeat offences.


With Musk describing himself as a ‘free speech absolutist’, and the EU taking the stance that free speech, and democracy in general, work better when aggression and misinformation are more tightly regulated, there is a large legal and ideological dispute brewing. In the case of Musk, Twitter and the EU, it is likely to hinge around the limits of free speech and the protection of users. The results of this, if and when it happens, will have a significant impact on how digital regulations of this kind are rolled out around the world, and on how we interact with each other in this digital world.


However, this issue of free speech is only one of a number of legal challenges that the EU is bound to face in the wake of their new legislation. To find out more about these new laws coming into force and how they may affect you, take a look here.

Europe takes on the tech giants

Last week, the European Union passed two new laws to regulate big tech companies: the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act. This new legislation represent arguably the biggest set of changes to the online world since the GDPR laws.


Fortunately, unlike the GDPR changes, these do not require substantial efforts from all businesses in the way they operate.  Crucially, the Acts are only directly relevant to companies whose main services are provided online.  Additionally, small tech companies will be spared the costliest of obligations, with only the largest companies (with a user base of at least 45 million across Europe) having to deal with the toughest regulations. These companies are identified in the Digital Markets Act as ‘Gatekeepers’, which often have interlocking services that work together to prevent users from branching out to other potential service providers, and which are capable of easily crushing smaller competitors in the marketplace. Think the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta.


At this point you might be thinking, “Ok that’s great, but why does it affect me? We’re no longer in the EU”. That is correct, and big tech companies are not going to start applying the rules to themselves voluntarily outside the EU.  However, it is likely that similar laws will be passed in a number of countries around the world following the example of Europe. This is what happened in many cases following GDPR. At this stage, it is impossible to know exactly what form a UK version of the new legislation may take, or when it will go through parliament, but it is likely to be similar to the EU version.


So, what do we have to look forward to?


For starters, the measures promise a safer and more pleasant experience for users; making it easier to report misinformation or dishonest products being sold online. They also make it easier to use services from other providers which may provide users with better value or a better experience. This includes being able to uninstall pre-installed software or apps on devices should they wish to.


For businesses, the main benefits are going to be felt by small enterprises and start-ups, as they are exempt from costs and are protected from unfair anti-competitive practices. They also benefit from the legal certainty of how Gatekeeper companies will interact with them and the terms on which they can make use of their services. This means that a business that allows users to do something as simple as creating a login using Google or Facebook could stand to benefit from the Acts.  Another benefit is the proposed system which will allow businesses to flag illegal content and goods that affect their rights, including their intellectual property.


Clearly, there will be a cost to all this. But it is one that is effectively borne by some of the largest and wealthiest companies in the world. In exchange, we get a system that will theoretically promote innovation, user choice, and fairer business practices. As for whether the Digital Market Act and Digital Services Act live up to these ambitions or not remains to be seen.  Undoubtedly however, the Gatekeeper companies most affected by these regulations will not simply accept these changes quietly.  We can anticipate years of litigation between them and the EU which will test to see how far the regulations can be pushed, the results of which will undoubtedly shape future legislation in this sector all over the world.