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The Apprentice Episode Six – Lawyer’s summary

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Each episode of The Apprentice will be scrutinised by Chloe Harrold, an associate with leading UK employment law firm Doyle Clayton and she will pull out the HR blunders for your entertainment and education. Based in Canary Wharf, just a few floors below where Lord Sugar grills the candidates to be his next apprentice, Chloe has experience of advising senior executives as well as employers in all areas of employment law. She deals with contentious and non-contentious matters, including exit strategy, compromise agreements, discrimination, reorganisation and TUPE.

Chloe is also a qualified New York lawyer who qualified as a UK solicitor in 2009 whilst specialising in employment law at a City firm. She joined Doyle Clayton in 2012.

The Apprentice – Series 11, Episode 6

12 November – Bob the Builder

The candidates were tasked this week with setting up a handyman business, finding and bidding for work, and carrying it out themselves – what could possibly go wrong?

At times it was like watching a carry on film: “What are you doing Mergim?” [Lady Brady] “Screwing a nail” [Mergim Butaja]; “Come on, let’s get screwing” [Joseph Valente]; “There’s too much bush”: thank you for this last gem, Scott Saunders.

No one looked more surprised than Elle Stevenson when her team said she was a good project manager. Surprise soon turned to dread as she realised her team had lost, and she was most definitely in the firing line. Stevenson’s day job is a construction operations executive, yet she failed every step of the way and Lord Sugar didn’t wait for a final three line up to fire her.  Even she had to agree it was the right decision but Lord Sugar didn’t stop there as Butaja and April Jackson also experienced the finger of doom.

The majority of team Versatile left a lot to be desired: shoddy work, overpricing and serious under-pricing. In fact, Jackson under-priced her team so much that they weren’t even earning the national minimum wage (it’s £6.60 for 21yr olds and over: the £3.33 Versatile was earning is closer to the minimum for apprentices – and not that kind of apprentice!)

Despite being on the losing team Joseph Valente most definitely lived up to the hype of being the bookies’ favourite by shining in this task and earning immunity from Lord Sugar. Valente runs his own plumbing business and it was refreshing to see a candidate demonstrate their real life experience. Realising that the commercial job they landed was so keenly priced, Valente gave stern instructions to his team members that there should be “no messing about, no stopping, no toilet breaks, literally hitting it”. Sage advice in the context of The Apprentice, but it did make me think about an issue which is patently obvious in this type of environment: health and safety.

I know, I know: health & safety *groans*, but we’re not talking about conkers in the playground. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) reports that in 2014/15, 142 workers were fatally injured at work in Great Britain and 102 members of the public were killed as a result of workplace incidents. It’s obvious that industries involving manual labour, machinery and other potentially dangerous situations need careful regulations, checks, training and safety measures in place but its worth remembering that office environments can also be hazardous.

Not only can physical accidents and injuries occur in an office environment, but the HSE 2014/15 report states that 1.2 million people suffer from an illness they believe was caused or made worse by their work. This can include psychiatric conditions. Stress in the workplace is a massive problem and a common issue I receive calls about from my clients. 

Employers should put precautions in place to help prevent problems occurring; look out for warning signs and address issues early on; and have options available to offer support when employees do become unwell. Prevention is always better than cure but if the moral pressure to look after your employees isn’t enough, the potential criminal and financial sanctions that can be imposed should certainly persuade employers to take health and safety seriously.

For the survivors of team Versatile I’m sure they’ll bounce back and it will be onwards and upwards for them next week. For Richard Woods, at the very least, he can only hope he isn’t left stranded on the pavement, having been forgotten by his team members – again.

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