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Two-way flexibility between employers and employees over working time arrangements – and other flexible working practices – is the backbone to achieving work:life balance and maximising the chances of business survival, according to research by a leading international social science research centre.

The Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER) is a global leader in research into the labour market. It has conducted a research programme into employers’ skills needs, HR policies, and the development of work:life balance over the last three decades focusing on the opportunities for employers and employees to benefit by adopting the latest thinking and practices.

Terence Hogarth, Principal Research Fellow at IER was keynote speaker at a recent Work:Life Balance seminar hosted by Midlands’ law firm Challinors. He explained:

“Work:life balance is an essential element of high performance work practices, founded on a mutual respect between employers and employees over the need for flexible working time arrangements, but  it will only work where other policies are in place that secure employees’ commitment and motivation.

“Given the depth of the recession and competitive pressures companies are likely to face in the recovery period, they should recognise the work:life balance as an essential ingredient to recovery and survival, as our evidence suggests.”

The Institute’s recent study indicates both employers and employees have identified real value in initiatives that support work:life balance, as Mr Hogarth explained: “94 percent of workers say that people work best when able to balance work and the rest of their lives, with 89 percent saying it improves work place morale. Employers think it makes for a happier workforce, improved staff retention and motivation, and has a positive impact on employee relations, recruitment and financial performance.

“Investments in the workforce are potentially less constrained compared with capital investments at this time and the evidence suggests that they have substantial scope to improve organisational performance.  Work-life balance is one of those investments. Companies have used work:life balance policies to ensure they can hold onto much valued employees during a downturn, by offering extended career breaks, reduced hours, and flexible working.”

The event marked the official launch of a new service from Challinors, iValue, which the firm’s chief executive Andy Hodges says is: “Our latest innovative approach towards supporting employers by providing a free, comprehensive added-value legal facility for staff.”

Additional recent research* indicates that 50 percent of SME owner managers in the UK say the state of the economy is taking its toll on their personal life, whilst 29 percent feel their work:life balance has deteriorated.

Copies of all the presentations from the Work:Life Balance seminar are available on-line:


First-time buyers need to act quickly if they are to complete buying their first home before the Stamp Duty exemption comes to an end on the 24th March 2012.
Sarah Pottle, Property Team Leader at Midlands law firm Challinors, explains: “First time property purchasers could save up to £2,500 under the relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax introduced by the Chancellor in the 24th March 2010 Budget.
“However, first time property purchases have to be completed by midnight on 24th March 2012, after which the rate returns to one per cent of the purchase price.
“Since the tax-break was introduced, first time buyers purchasing a home for less than £250,000 have not had to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax.
“However, with these benefits due to end in just a few weeks, those wishing to take advantage of the competitive first-time property prices in the current market, and realise the tax savings, need to act quickly. They have to aim for completion of their property purchase before the 24th March, which could save them up to £2,500, depending on the property value.”
Please see the attached press release for more information. The attached jpeg image shows (caption): Challinors’ Property Team Leader Sarah Pottle says first time home buyers should complete their purchase quickly to take advantage of the Stamp Duty exemption that runs out on the 24th March.


Proposals under consideration by the Coalition government could see divorced fathers receive the same legal rights as mothers over the amount of contact with children in divorce settlements.
The government is expected to confirm its plans later in January, and the change could see Courts given a legal duty to ensure equality for divorcing fathers and mothers, as family lawyer Fiona O’Sullivan, a Partner at Midlands firm Challinors, explains:
“The Coalition is proposing to amend the law to ensure Courts have an obligation to make sure fathers and mothers have equal contact with children following divorce.
“According to the Office for National Statistics, one in three, or 3.8 million, children live without their natural father.
“Children’s minister Tim Loughton said the government’s vision is ‘to establish that under normal circumstances, a child will have a relationship with both parents, regardless of their relationship with each other.’”
Fiona warns that negotiations over contact to children following a relationship breakdown must begin as early as possible: “For people not usually involved in family law, they should appreciate that the starting point in every case of relationship breakdown is for professionals acting for both parties to encourage mothers and fathers to ensure continuity of children’s relationships with both their parents, especially for the parent who is not living with the child every day.”


Criminal Defence expert Jill Hawkins and Criminal Litigation specialist Richard Bullock have joined the Nottingham office of Midlands law firm Challinors.

They become part of Challinors top ranking, thirty-strong dedicated Business and Serious Crime team, which operates across the region.

Led by Partner Ghulam Sohail, Challinors Crime team received Band 1 ranking in the latest Chambers & Partners Directory for the third consecutive year, and was recognised by Legal 500 Directory for its specialisation in serious fraud and complex crime.

Jill Hawkins was previously a Director of Cartwright King, and has specialised in Mental Health law since 2009.   Chambers Directory has recognised Jill Hawkins as ‘strong with a big presence’ for her Mental Health and Youth Court expertise, providing representation for youths throughout the Midlands.

Richard Bullock is a highly experienced and well regarded Solicitor advocate and has practiced Criminal Litigation almost exclusively since 1986. He was head of the Criminal Department at Jackson Quinn for fifteen years before setting up the specialist Criminal and Law practice Carringtons in 2004.

Ghulam Sohail, Partner and team head, comments: “Both Jill and Richard are highly experienced criminal law specialists and both are excellent additions to our growing, thriving team.

“Jill has led many high profile and serious cases over the last 28 years.  Alongside her criminal health and mental health expertise, Jill is a specialist Youth Court solicitor and has grown to become the solicitor of choice in such matters in the region.

“Richard is an active and well-known advocate in criminal law. He has been involved in the Magistrates and Crown Courts, and has extensive experience of dealing with Prison adjudications and advising at local police stations. His robust advice, realistic approach to cases, clear and concise style of advocacy will be a huge resource for our team.”

Challinors Nottingham criminal defence team is headed by Matt Goode. The team is currently acting for a number of clients in a range of high value fraud and complex crime cases.

Matt adds: “Challinors’ criminal defence team is on call seven days a week and is embracing the challenge of delivering a credible alternative to the legal providers in the Nottingham market. Jill and Richard are highly regarded, respected and expert criminal specialists who add significant strength to our top ranking team.”

Research by the Warwick Institute for Employment Research into the growing importance for employers of offering staff a realistic work:life balance to help ride-out the economic downturn, will be unveiled at a free briefing event next month.
Terence Hogarth, Principal Research Fellow at the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, is keynote speaker at the Work:life Balance Breakfast Briefing, hosted by Midlands law firm Challinors, at Conference Aston, Birmingham on Thursday 12th January 2012.
The event will look at the development of work:life balance over the last decade and the opportunities for employers and employees to benefit by adopting the latest thinking and practices.
Terence Hogarth has led a ten-year programme of research into employers’ skills needs and HR policies and will unveil the key findings of the research at the event.
Challinors’ chief executive Andy Hodges, comments: “This is an important event for senior HR personnel and business owners and directors.
“The challenges of the current economic climate have frequently led businesses to run a lean ship. Now they are faced with exploring less traditional methods than simply remuneration and pensions, to provide staff with added value and incentive to stay. The need to consider added reward for employees’ services, to show appreciation of their hard work and to recognise their contribution to the business, with a portfolio of creative initiatives that embrace, recognise and support the challenge of the work:life balance.
“Terence Hogarth and the Institute for Employment Research has led the field in research in the area of work:life balance and activities,” he adds, “and this event will provide both information and practical guidance on ways in which businesses can add value to help maintain staff morale and commitment.”
Please see the attached press release for more information. The attached jpeg image shows (caption): Terence Hogarth, Principal Research Fellow at the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, is keynote speaker at the Work:life Balance Breakfast Briefing, hosted by Midlands law firm Challinors, at Conference Aston, Birmingham on Thursday 12th January 2012.


The Family team at Midlands’ law firm Challinors, which is placed in the highest Top Tier ranking in the latest edition of the independent Legal 500 Directory, has hired specialist family lawyers Richard Gray and Venetia Chatzimichali.

The latest hires bring the total family team resource to thirty-three fee earners, and grows the firm’s representation on the Law Society Children’s Panel to six.

Based in Challinors’ Birmingham city centre office, Richard Gray joins the firm from the Northampton office of Adams Moore Solicitors, where he was Lead Family Solicitor for more than two years, specialising in private and publicly funded family and children matters. He qualified as a solicitor in 2000 and is an Accredited Member of the Law Society’s Children Law and Family Law Panels.

Venetia Chatzimichali joins Challinors’ West Bromwich office from Kale & Co Solicitors in Wolverhampton, where she was a family lawyer for over two years, managing a publicly and privately funded case load of children, matrimonial and domestic violence matters. She is currently studying towards a PhD in Law in Financial Services Law.

“We handle all manner of family legal issues, from complex child care work to representing high net worth clients,” explains the firm’s Partner Fiona O’Sullivan, Head of the Family Law team, which includes the dedicated Child Care team.

“As instructions continue to rise in both our Birmingham and West Bromwich offices in the West Midlands, we needed to expand our dedicated team, and both Richard and Venetia represent experienced and competent additions to our resource for private clients.”

Challinors’ Associate in the Child Care Team, Claire Butterfield was appointed to the LSC Children Law Panel earlier this year. Challinors now has six of its team appointed to the Panel, including its latest hire Richard Gray, together with Consultants Angela Houston and John Chapple, Solicitor Fiona Bowen, and Associate in the East Midlands, Pramila Meghani.

Challinors Family and Child Care teams both scored highly in the latest edition of the Legal 500, which awarded the Family team the highest, First Tier ranking for the third consecutive year. The team is recognised for its high level of service which ‘exceeds expectations’, and team head Fiona O’Sullivan, is recognised for her ‘personable, prompt and efficient’ attributes and her expertise in the pension’s aspects of financial settlements.

Challinors has offices in the West Midlands in Birmingham, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton, Halesowen and Nottingham in the East Midlands. It has17 partners and over 100 fee earners, and is ranked as one of the top legal firms in the West Midlands. The firm’s Crime and Family Law teams received top tier, Band 1 ranking in the 2010 and 2011 editions of the Legal 500 Directory and is ranked in Band 2 of the Chambers UK Directory. The firm is Number 1 in the Chambers UK Directory in Crime and Clinical Negligence categories.