HR

Team Spotlight: Meet Zegal’s Singing Sales Executive


 
Zegal’s team are a talented bunch and it’s highlighted no better than with Pratik Puri and his dulcet tones that are put to use both in the office and in his off hours to the delight of friends and family.
 
Pratik takes us through some of his life experiences, working at Zegal, and tells of us one hair-raising team building activity that’s now became a favourite memory. 
 

Pratik Puri

Junior Sales Executive, Nepal

What’s your position at Zegal?
My position in the company is Junior Sales Executive. However, I am involved in both the Sales and Customer Success teams. Getting involved in both of these has made the job
more exciting. With the amazing team that I have, I get to learn many new informative things and improve everyday. I started in early Feb, 2020. It is proving to be a wonderful journey.
 
What are some of the biggest challenges of your job at Zegal?
The challenges that we have to face are, firstly getting a reply in the live chat. Usually when someone visits our site, we try to engage with them through the live chat by sending
some messages but most of the time it’s hard to get a response. And since I am in the Sales team, convincing someone to go for our product is also a challenging task.
 
What has been a really satisfying moment in your job that brought you happiness?
19 March, 2020 was the day when I got my first sale. On that day, Mr.Hung Chou [Hung Chou Tai, CEO] tagged me on Linked In and wrote a very beautiful and motivational post for me. So, this has to be one of the most satisfying moments that brought me happiness.
 
What did you do before you worked for Zegal?

Before I knew anything about Zegal, I was involved in some projects and was doing some part-time teaching as well. I love music so I was also learning about different theories and aspects
of music.

 What’s it like where you grew up? 
I was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. It has always been a delightful place to live. You can see the hills around and the climate is also very pleasant. With stunning places
to visit like the Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Basantapur Durbar Square etc, it is indeed a wonderful place to grow up.
 
What do you like to do for fun outside of the office?
Usually when I am not working, I like to spend my time playing around with music. I’m also a big football fan and play lots of football. I even love to cook and also spend my time
learning and cooking new and different varieties of food and then eating them.
 
What’s the best thing about the Zegal office and team?
Firstly, the atmosphere is pretty amazing to work in and we have people from different countries working together which makes it even more exhilarating. It’s just like one big family, you can just reach out to anyone.
 
Do you have any fun stories to share about your time so far at Zegal?
I’ve always been scared of rivers and large water bodies, and so is my friend Ashim. So, a few months back, Mr.Daniel [Daniel Walker, Founder] came to the Nepal office and along with our colleagues decided to go rafting for the weekend. The next day my friend Ashim said ‘If we die, then we die together :)’ and convinced me to go rafting. I felt very nervous seeing the river during the beginning but as the journey went through, I started enjoying it and even gathered all my guts to jump into the river –but holding onto the boat of course :). It was exciting as well as scary and has become one great memory.
 
Do you like to sing in public? 
I’ve never sung in a public place . I used to sing in front of my singing class when I was learning to sing way back. Currently, I only sing in front of my friends and family but when I do get a chance to sing, I always take it :)
 
Here’s a video of Pratik sharing his lovely singing voice:

 

New Updates on Covid-19 Government Support for Employers in Hong Kong


Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

As the world reacts to the Covid-19 epidemic, Hong Kong has announced an Employment Support Scheme as part of their anti-epidemic fund on 18th April 2020. Here you’ll find a comprehensive guide to the details of the ESS. 

Hong Kong’s Employment Support Scheme (ESS)

The HKD$81 billion scheme aims to cushion the impact that Covid-19 has brought to the employment sector. The ESS has been set up to maintain employment in hard-hit industries through the provision of time-limited financial support for employers that retain their employees who would have otherwise been made redundant. Additionally, the ESS also covers eligible self-employed persons with a one-off lump sum subsidy.

Who is eligible for the Employment Support Scheme?

  • All employers who have been making Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions or have set up Occupational Retirement Schemes (ORSO Schemes) for their employees. 
  • “Employees” refers to those who are full-time and part-time. This is not applicable to persons like government employees, statutory bodies and staff employed by outsourced service contracts that are under Government contracts.
  • Self-employed persons that have been contributing to MPF for the past 15 months, from or before 31st March 2020 (excluding backdating)

*All eligible employers partaking in the ESS must formally agree to not implement any form of redundancies during the subsidy period. 

**If there is a reduction in the number of employees on the payroll within the stipulated time period, the employer will be penalised accordingly. If any employer is found trying to terminate employees or add non-employees (i.e. friends or family) to the payroll, the employer will be subjected to criminal liabilities. 

***Employers are expected to transfer 100% of all given subsidy amounts to employees. The government will also release the list of companies under the ESS in order to ensure transparency.

More details on penalties can be found here.

What is the subsidy amount given under ESS?

For Employers:
The amount of subsidies given will be 50% of the monthly wages per employee, with a maximum subsidy of HKD$9,000. This means that any monthly wage above HKD$18,000 will be given the maximum subsidy amount of HKD$9,000 only. 

For Self-Employed Persons:
The one-off lump sum subsidy will be HKD$7,500.

Application and Payment period

At the moment, the Government has announced 2 rounds of payments with 2 application periods.

Applications must be submitted through the ESS online portal. The first round of applications start 0700hrs on 25th May 2020 and will close 2359hrs on 14th June 2020.

Application Period

Applicable Wage Months to select (only select one)

Payment Period

Subsidy Covers

25th May – 14th June 2020

December 2019 – March 2020

End June 2020

June – August 2020 Wages

TBA

TBA

September 2020

September – November 2020 Wages

 

Documents required for application

For employers under MPF Schemes:

  • Business Registration Number (or other registration number as required)
  • Name of the MPF Trustee
  • Name of MPF Scheme and Scheme Registration/ Participation Number 
  • Bank account number of employer 
  • Scanned copy of bank statement 

For employers under MPF-exempted ORSO Schemes:

  • Business Registration Number (or other registration number as required)
  • Name of MPF-exempted ORSO scheme, MPF Exemption Number and ORSO Registration/ Exemption Number 
  • Bank account number of employer
  • Number of eligible employees in March 2020, to be submitted through a designated form
  • Scanned copy of exemption certificate issued by MPFA
  • Scanned copy of bank statement

For self-employed persons:

  • Name of MPF Trustee
  • Name of the MPF Scheme (include all) and Scheme Registration/ Participation Number
  • Bank account number of employer
  • Scanned copy of bank statement

The Employment Support Scheme is a part of the Anti-Epidemic Fund initiated in light of Covid-19 by the Hong Kong government. This information is valid from the date of 20th May 2020.

Hong Kong’s Anti-Epidemic Fund 

The comprehensive fund of HKD$137.5 billion will cover different Covid-19 affected sectors. The Legislative Council Finance Committee had approved the second round of fund injection on 18th April 2020. 

 

Sector

Overview of Measures

Employment 

Total funding of HKD$6 billion 

Includes schemes like Employment Support Scheme (ESS), Job Retention and Creation measures and Matching Grant Scheme of Skills Upgrading.

  • Creation of approximately 30,000 fixed-term jobs (up to 12 months) in the upcoming 2 years.
  • Matching grants of up to HKD$100 million for skills upgrading programmes for employees.

Real Estate

One-off subsidies to eligible licensed individuals

The subsidy amount will be equivalent to the 24-month licence fee for relevant licences.

Rental and fee concessions for selected government premises from April 2020 to September 2020. 

Banking and Finance

One-off relief grant to eligible individuals under Category B & C exchange participants and licensed Securities and Futures Commission individuals 

Intervention from Hong Kong Monetary Authority to address the pressure on clients’ cash flow.

Education

One-off relief grant of HKD$40,000 to tutorial schools, in accordance with the Education Ordinance. 

One-off relief grant (varying amount) to suppliers and service providers for schools and educational institutions 

One-off relief grant for registered coaches under the National Sports Associations and Sports Organisations as well as instructors affiliated to the Social Welfare Department.

One-off interest-rate deferral of loan repayments for 2 years to post-secondary institutions under the Start-Up Loan Scheme or Non-profit-making international schools. Applicable to students under Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency. 

Aviation

One-off subsidy of HKD$1 million for Hong Kong registered large aircrafts and HKD$200,000 for small aircrafts.

One-off subsidy (varying amount) to companies in the aviation support line.

Transportation

20% fare reduction between 1st July 2020 to 1st January 2021 for MTR Corporation Limited.

100% reimbursement of actual regular repair and maintenance costs and insurance premiums for a period of six months for eligible transportation companies. 

Cash subsidies to transportation drivers.

Monthly public transport expense threshold of the Public Transport Fare Subsidy to be halved to HKD$200 from July 2020 to December 2020. 

Hotels and Tourism

Cash subsidy for licensed hotels

Subsidies for tourism-related companies.

Construction

HKD$50,000 training subsidies to construction consulting firms.

Cash subsidies for eligible construction-related employees.

Insurance

Extended grace periods for insurance policy holders individuals to make payment.

Catering

One-off subsidy (varying amounts) to be given to catering companies in two tranches.

Catering businesses that have been closed down under government regulations will receive a further one-off subsidy of HKD$50,000. 

Healthcare

Waived registration and enrolment fees for eligible healthcare professionals from July 2020 to 2022, in recognition for their dedication to fight Covid-19 on the frontlines.

Legal

LAWTECH Fun started to support and upgrade SMEs.

Covid-19 Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Scheme started to provide legal assistance for issues relating to Covid-19.

Innovation and Technology

Distance Business Programme launched to support technology-based businesses.

Funding for 5G development projects.

Others

One-off relief grants for:

  • Sectors that have been completely/partly closed by government regulations in light of Covid-19
  • Private refuse collectors
  • Local primary producers

Subsidies given to:

  • Creative industries 
  • Non-profit-making organisations

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

READ MORE: The CoronaVirus: Working from Home in Hong Kong

FURTHER READING: Gone Viral: Event Cancellations During Coronavirus Outbreak

 

Common Challenges Companies Face When Adopting Remote Work


Working remotely has been rising in popularity over the past few years. The distributed work arrangement is fast becoming the norm today.

Currently, companies across Asia, and in most developed economies, are adopting what is now being touted as the “biggest work-from-home experiment”. The spread of the coronavirus has put many cities and even whole nations in lockdown. Businesses are now urged to shift to flexible working arrangements to promote “social distancing”. These arrangements are believed to be effective in “flattening the curve” and halting COVID-19 from spreading further.

While remote work has numerous benefits, organisations that are not fully prepared to implement it might face unavoidable friction. So, if your business is considering remote working arrangements, here are some of the most common challenges that you might encounter.

Internet Connectivity

It might sound obvious but work from home arrangements increase your daily work’s dependence on internet speed and quality. This is especially important today as some service providers might not be ready for the deluge in traffic from entire cities working remotely. In China alone,Ciscodetails how the traffic of its WebEx video conferencing service has increased 22 times since the outbreak. Making sure your employees’ connectivity is on par with your expectations is one of the things you may have to consider right now.

Fragmented Communication

Communication is one of the biggest challenges in any flexible working arrangement. The risk of miscommunication over typed messages is much higher than with meetings in person. Fortunately, collaborative apps like Microsoft’s Teams, Zoom, Google, and Slack have offered many of their services for free amid the crisis. These applications have the essential and integrated tools you will need including messaging, project management, video conferencing, and webinars support. The key tenets to communicating effectively in work from home arrangements, however, are reaching out, being professional and positive, and listening more intently.

Distractions Abound

Productivity may be hard to measure when working at a distance. This is especially true when outputs are collaborative. It may be even more difficult to get work done when you’re distracted while at home. Verizon Connect suggests a number of ways for employees to stay productive, wherever they are. One interesting tip they give is switching to airplane mode when working to minimise distractions. It takes an average person about 23 minutes to get back to peak productivity after being distracted. Doing away with phones while working can drastically improve productivity.

Data Security Challenges

This is especially challenging for those handling sensitive data or proprietary software. Employees’ own computers do not have the same protections as the devices they use at work. And when working remotely, there’s also the reduced capability of monitoring them. Fast Company lists some of the things you can implement. These include using a Virtual Private Network, Two-Factor Authentication, and other software to enhance monitoring. You can also move your files to the cloud with apps like Zegal to ensure you always have a copy. What is crucial, however, is enforcing more stringent policies in regulating employees’ access to sensitive data and information. In addition, you must devise a contingency plan in the case of a data breach.

Technology firms and digitally-transformed companies will have an edge in switching to a flexible work arrangement. But many more traditional organisations will also find it comes with benefits. In fact, The Guardian estimates that workers and employers alike might not want to switch back fully, even after the pandemic subsides. Whatever the case, being able to adapt to the challenges of working from home is a great indicator of your company’s health and agility.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

READ MORE: Secret Metadata: Beware Before You Share

FURTHER READING: UK Employer Guidelines During Coronavirus

4 Useful Self-Management Skills To Have When Team-Building


Self-management is crucial when running your business. When you take responsibility for your actions and doing things to the best of your ability, you’re showing members of your team that you’re sound and can contribute to the team as a leader. You should remember, you’re not just being the boss to your team, but you’re also acting as the boss of YOU.

Here are some of the ways that self-management is crucial to your team-building success. It is a great skill to have no matter which industry you’re in, and can help you deal with happenings outside of work as well.

Task Management

“How you manage your time is key, when it comes to self-management,” said Harvey Howarth, a business writer at Write My X and Britstudent. “When you make a list of priorities, you’ll get the ball rolling. And when you assign different tasks to each member of your team, you’re managing your time really well; and it helps you determine which tasks need heavy prioritising, and which ones to wait on for another day.”

Prioritising which things to do ‘now,’ and which to do ‘later’ will help you make tremendous progress in your work.

Keep in mind though: you, as a manager, will have to communicate these given tasks to your team members in order to get started on the day’s (or week’s) work.

Productivity vs Downtime

Everyone deserves a break every now and again. But when you have a huge workload to tackle, how do you find the time to take a break?

Managing your downtime can not only give you the break that you need every once in a while, but it will also give you peace of mind that production is still happening. This will let you enjoy your downtime. The best way to do this is by creating a schedule that works for you and your team. Proper planning and time management will help you to stay focused on the task(s) at hand, and to better function in productivity. And if you feel that a task is becoming too tedious, switch tasks and come back to it later. But, be sure to also communicate this to your team.  

Stress Management

Stress is a leading cause of burnout and it can seriously ruin your workday. It even ruins lives. But let’s not overreact.  You can overcome this obstacle by using effective stress-relieving techniques.

If you’re prone to impulsive behaviours, instead of using it for anger, use it for good. Use that same energy to motivate yourself to do something. But first, breathe, think, and relax.

Importantly, don’t take it out on your team. If a problem arises, think of ways it can be resolved rather than wasting time on anger and blame. When everyone has a cool head in a situation, together you’ll make the right choices and move forward to the task(s) at hand without upsetting anyone, or yourself.

Problem-Solving

“Whenever problems arise – regardless of whether it’s technical, interpersonal, you name it – you have to exhibit self-management and solve whatever is going wrong,” said John S. Catlett, an tech blogger at 1Day2Write and NextCoursework. “Your team will look to you to help solve these types of problems. As a manager, you have to ask yourself questions: What started the problem? What are the worst-case scenarios? How do you define success? Are your team members asking questions? Are they communicating with you and your team about anything? Are you open to other people’s opinion(s)? What happens if nothing is done? What is the best alternative, if all else fails? In short, your team looks to you to make the call. Take control.”

When you take control of a situation, this will motivate your team to also take initiative, and there will eventually be a resolution.

To Sum Up

As you think about the ways that self-management is effective in the workplace, these can also be incorporated outside of work. When you stop and think about your actions, and make sure that you’re acting accordingly and responsibly, you’ll find that you’re doing well in managing not only your team but also (and more importantly) yourself. Again, your employees will look to you to lead them in the right direction; so be sure to brush up and maintain your self-managing skills.

Mildred Delgado freelances for Academicbrits.com and PhDKingdom.com. As a marketing strategist, she works with marketing teams to present the best marketing strategies and proposals on their sites. To learn more about her work, visit Research Paper Help.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

READ MORE:Common Dispute Resolution Methods to Resolve Commercial Contracts 

FURTHER READING: Writing Branded Content For Social Media

UK Employer Guidelines During Coronavirus


With the Coronavirus causing extreme concern on a global scale, now is a good time for employers to issue their own guidance to their employees and help to stop the spread. 

Here are some simple steps employers can implement:

  • ensure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap. Hold a short talk to highlight the seriousness of the outbreak and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly, provide hand sanitiser for staff
  • consider extra precautions for more vulnerable workers such as those over the age of 70, pregnant staff members and any with pre-existing health conditions
  • make sure staff know how to spot symptoms of the virus, procedures for sickness reporting and sick pay
  • reconsider travel to affected areas
  • make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date

Working from home

 If staff  have work laptops or mobile phones, its advisable they carry on working from home. If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employee should get their usual pay.

Lay-offs

Employer might need to close their business for a period under these extreme circumstances or may need to ask staff to reduce their contracted hours. Unless it says in the contract or is agreed otherwise, they still need to pay their employees for this time. 

Holiday leave

Employers have the right to tell employees when to take holiday, if they need to. For example, they can decide to shut for a week and everyone must use their holiday entitlement. If the employer does this, they must tell staff at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take. For example, if they want to close for 4 days, they should tell everyone at least 8 days beforehand.

Dependants Leave

Employees are entitled to time off  to help someone who depends on them  in an unexpected event or emergency. This  applies to situations to do with coronavirus. It includes a parent needing to look after their children because of a school closure or looking after a child if they’re sick or in isolation. 

While there’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

Self-isolation and sick pay

Employees and workers must receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they need to self-isolate because:

  • they have coronavirus
  • they have coronavirus symptoms (fever or continuous cough)
  • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
  • they’ve been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111

If someone has symptoms, everyone in their household must self-isolate for 14 days. Employers need to be flexible during the current crisis as government advises against visiting GPs for a sick note to prevent further spread of the virus. 

Travelling from affected areas

Anyone returning from an affected area, for example China or Italy, should self-isolate.
Their employer should pay them Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or contractual sick pay while they’re in self-isolation and cannot work.

 

Continue to keep up to date with the Coronavirus developments through the government advice in the UK here:

If you have concerns about your health, check NHS.UK for Coronavirus advice here

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

READ MORE: Coronavirus In The UK: Are You Entitled To Sick Pay?

FURTHER READING: The Post-Brexit Relationship Between Hong Kong and the UK

Will I Get Paid If I Get Sick During Coronavirus Outbreak?


Employer Obligations During the Coronavirus Outbreak in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Singapore, and Australia

Since the first outbreak of the Coronavirus in Wuhan China in December 2019, it has spread to over 22 countries outside China. The virus is a concerning public health issue for local governments, but it is also a challenging issue for employers.

This article will look at the obligations of employers in a number of countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Hong Kong

Employers have a common law duty to take reasonable care of their employee’s safety at work and to ensure a reasonably safe working environment. The Hong Kong government has recommended the private sector to allow work from home or adopt other flexible working arrangements to reduce the congregation of people in the workplace.

An employer who wishes to conduct temperature testing or medical examination on his employees should be mindful of the Data Protection Principle 1 (DPP1) in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, as temperature tests and medical examinations are deemed as a collection of personal data. Employers have to comply with certain DPP1 principles, such as informing their employees the purpose of such recording and any transfer of their data. It is generally legal to ask employees to undergo temperature testing on a voluntary basis, but it would be unlawful for an employer to penalise an employee who refused to take the test.

Employees contracted with coronavirus are entitled to sickness allowance in accordance with the Employment Ordinance. They are also protected from termination of their employment, or the employer may face a claim for disability discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance.

China

Employers in China who fail to provide a safe working environment to employees may face liability to their employees and their families and may even be sanctioned by the government. Employers should observe the legal obligation to prevent and control communicable diseases as stipulated in the PRC Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Communicable Diseases. These requirements include cooperating with relevant authorities on disease prevention, reporting truthful information about the disease and paying full salaries to employees who are being quarantined.

Under the national annual leave regulations, an employer may direct an employee to  take statutory annual leave based on business considerations. Under the current situation, employers are encouraged to consult their employees and implement work from home arrangements as far as possible. This is also in line with the PRC government’s endorsement of flexible working arrangements.

If the business was unable to operate at all because of the Coronavirus, employers cannot simply put employees on unpaid annual leave. Their salaries should be calculated as follows:

  • First month: regular pay to all employees
  • After one month: a minimum amount equivalent to the local minimum wage to employees who have performed work; a “living fee” to employees who have not performed work

Singapore

Like Hong Kong, Singaporean employers owe a common law duty to take reasonable care of their employee’s safety and working environment. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore webpage which collates all the recommendations made by the Singapore government. The webpage is very comprehensive with detailed guidance on different issues.

Some points to note are:

  • Employers who wish to bring back foreign employees with recent travel history to mainland China or South Korea (Daegu city and Cheongdo country) have to seek approval from the MOM and ensure the employees serve their 14-day Stay-home Notice. This period is considered as paid hospitalisation leave.
  • As for employees who are not required to go on mandatory quarantine, employers are still encouraged to allow work from home when feasible. It is possible for employers to direct employees to take annual leave, although this will unlikely to be well-received by employees. However, employers cannot treat this period as unpaid leave without the consent of employees.

The MOM has also introduced a temporary scheme to help the companies in the manufacturing and services industries if they experience manpower shortage, details can be found here. We suggest employers in Singapore start by taking a look at the webpage to find out more information under different categories.

Australia

Australian employers have a rather strict duty, as far as reasonably practicable, to ensure the health and safety of their employees while at work. Employers are required to take precautionary measures to protect their employees from contracting the coronavirus. For example, cancelling work trips to Mainland China and screening workers who may have been exposed to the virus. Apart from protecting their own employees, they are also responsible for the health of persons who may be affected by their work, such as visitors to their offices or clients. There aren’t clear regulations stating how far the duty of care is, each employer should take into account the circumstances and nature of their business. The bottom line is employers should do everything reasonable to ensure that employees and other persons in contact will not be exposed to a risk of contracting the virus.

Staying alert to announcements made by the Australian government and following their compulsory guidelines is the start. The government currently requires quarantine of individuals who have transited through or travelled to mainland China or have been in contact with a confirmed case. Employers should implement home office arrangements to accommodate employees who need to be self-quarantined. Employees working from home are still entitled to receive full pay and benefits or an employee can make a claim for breach of contract or constructive dismissal. It is unlikely that employers can ask their workers to take unpaid annual leave during this period unless it is mutually agreed.

We hope this article clears some of the major questions regarding employer obligations during this critical period, especially for companies with cross-border operations as the requirements vary from country to country. As the virus is evolving rapidly, stay tuned for updates from your local authorities and make adaptions flexibly. We wish you a safe and healthy workplace!

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

FURTHER READING: Working From Home During The CoronaVirus

READ MORE: 6 Apps Helping You Work Remotely

Team Spotlight: Meet Zegal’s Skillful Sibling Duo


 
Zegal is a business built by a team of incredible individuals working together and enjoying the process of doing it. A perfect demonstration of the dynamic is with the sister and brother team, Sriyanka and Samyak Nakarmi of the Customer Success team in the Nepal office in Kathmandu . Both are incredible at working to get customers exactly what they need from Zegal’s online legal contracts, and both share a love of using emojis ;).
 
We put both the spirited siblings into the hot seat to get to know them a little bit better, and to see how smoothly it works for Samyak having big sis as his boss:
 

Sriyanka Nakarmi

Head of Customer Success, Nepal

How long have you been with Zegal?
I joined Zegal on 20 Aug 2018. It really is amazing how time flies so quickly, feels like yesterday that I joined Zegal but it’s already been a year and a half.
 
Where did you grow up? 
I grew up in Kathmandu, Nepal. I have always lived locally, surrounded by people who help each other out. It’s a friendly neighbourhood.
 
What’s your job role?
I started as a Customer Success Representative. I was also involved in testing (QA) for a couple of months, which was a plus point for me as I was able to understand our app in detail and eventually answer client questions properly and confidently. Now, the team involves both sales and customer success, which granted is more challenging but at the same time brings out more excitement in us as well. So, my role has evolved as the company has evolved I and am currently the head of the CS team in Nepal. 
 
What are some of the usual questions you get asked by customers while creating documents?
That would mostly depend upon the need or the work that the customer has going on. The most common question asked is assigning signer role and downloading DOCx.
 
Has there been a really satisfying moment in your job that brought you happiness? 
There are quite a few: I joined August 2018. In November, Daniel [Daniel Walker, Founder] announced me as an Employee of the month  – October 2018. That was really encouraging and motivated me to do more. Also, we used to get a lot of feature requests for in-app editor from our clients. The day we finally released this feature, I was really elated. I still remember how happy I was when I found out we were working on this feature.
 
What’s it like working with your brother?
It’s quite different than what I had expected. It’s different at home and in the office.We have our differences but I am glad that we have been able to maintain professionalism in the office. All in all, its nice.
 
Do you two see much of each other outside of the office?
We live together, so we see each other all the time in the office and at home.😄 Before he joined, we didn’t see each other much as I would be in the office the whole day and we would have our weekends planned with our friends or outside home. So, ironically Zegal has helped us to spend more time together!
 
What do you like to do for fun outside of the office?
I would consider myself to be a foodie.  I love to eat, love to try out new places and new food. Honestly for me, there’s no fun unless there’s good food. 
 
Do you have any fun stories to share about your time at Zegal so far?
There’s a lot of fun stories to be honest. But the one implanted in my brain is when I had the opportunity to visit the Hong Kong office. We had loads of fun.  It was my first time being in HK and, I must say, it was quite an experience.
 
What’s the best thing about the Zegal office and team?
Everyone respects everyone here. I can easily reach out to anyone for any help despite the geographical and cultural difference. It actually feels like home. A work family, if I may.
 
 

Samyak Nakarmi

Customer Success Representative


How long have you been with Zegal?
I joined Zegal in June of 2019. June 20th to be exact. So, this would mean that I’ve been a ‘dragon’ for almost eight months now.

What’s your role? 
I work as a Customer Success Representative. I support customers when they have a query about our product. Recently, I have also been involved in sales. I have never had experience in sales before- this has made my job more challenging, hence making it more interesting! I get to learn new things every single day!

What did you do before you worked for Zegal? 
Before Zegal, I used to help people be a better version of themselves and help expand their knowledge. In other words, I used to be a teacher(school and home tutor).😂 
When I was a kid and I thought about what I wanted to do in the future, the same thing always came on my mind: work as a computer programmer during the day and shoot webs and fight crime during the nights. Being a teacher never ever ever struck my mind. 

What’s it like where you grew up? 
I grew up in Dhalko, Kathmandu and I still live here.  My neighbourhood had a lot of kids my age. So I had fun growing up- playing Beyblades, hide and seek, sharing stickers of WWE Superstars, etc.

What do you like to do for fun outside of the office?
I’m really into music. I play the guitar. Besides this, I like to watch movies, cook (sometimes), and play video games.

What has been a really satisfying moment in your job that brought you happiness?
When we were at Adam’s [Adam Tombleson, the greatly missed former Lead Software Engineer] farewell at Vesper. I’ll cherish that moment forever because at that moment I really felt like I was out with my family. I felt like I was a part of something huuuge. And that made me feel so happy to be included in something so magical.

What’s it like working with your sister? 
I feel lucky to be working with my sister. It is not exactly how I thought it would be like. We speak Newari at home, in office, we (have to) speak Nepali/English, I find this very weird. Also, it puts my mind at rest knowing that I can ask for her help without any hesitation when I’m in need. I get to learn a lot of new things from her.
Working with my sister has made me realise how talented she really is! (not that I didn’t know that before but, you know what I mean, right?) :D

What’s the best thing about the Zegal office and team?  
The people! Everyone in this office is so friendly. I like the fact that I can directly reach out to the CEO without having to book an ‘appointment’. 

 
Do you have any fun stories to share about your time so far at Zegal?
It was the 4th Dec 2019. We did potluck that day and went to archery after that and I actually hit a BULLSEYE!! (no kidding). I had so much fun that day, probably because I got to eat different varieties of food for FREE (especially those sausages that Sonu dai brought!) and I got to bond with my colleagues :D
 
Watch out for more team spotlights to come here on Zegal Times

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The Most Common Employment Contract Disputes


Employment contracts are put in place within businesses to define terms and conditions for employees that work within the business. Written contracts will be issued to employees when they’re in process of being employed in a role within the company.

According to the Employment Rights Act of 1996, it’s the employers given duty that they provide the employee with a written document that outlines terms of their employment within 2 months of their starting date. Yet, even when official documents are issued there can be common contract disputes that arise during employment which can easily lead to internal discussions or even legal action.
So despite a contract being in place, what are common contract disputes that you’re still likely to come across? Here common employment contract disputes that are in place.

Wrongful Termination

This is in fact probably one of the most common disputes within employment law. It can be rather costly and time consuming when an employee has to be dismissed from their role. This is one of the many reasons why contracts are put in place, so employees adhere to the terms of their role.

However, there can be occasions where employees feel their termination from the role has been made wrongfully. Whether they still feel they were in their rights for whatever they were dismissed for or they’ve been dismissed controversially, employees may try to contest the reasons for their dismissal.

Disputes With Wages

Whilst wages would have been agreed beforehand, employees can begin a wage dispute case if they feel an employer has not been compensating them for the time they’ve been working on the job. This can include factors such as overtime and tips that have been earnt. As a regulation, employers should be providing their staff with minimum pay wages.

Another form of wage dispute is in regards to worker misclassification. This can happen when an employer wrongfully declares that a worker is in fact a contractor rather than someone who is employed by the business. This can be extremely detrimental to the worker, particularly with tax issues and benefit payments. This is why it’s important that terms and conditions are agreed via an employee contract beforehand.

Claims of Harassment or Discrimination

Harassment and discrimination in the workplace can be an extremely serious offence. There are currently laws in place to protect workers from discrimination and harassment and is relevant to any employee that works for the business.

Discrimination relates to unfair treatment of an individual based on their age, race, gender, religion, sex, pregnancy, disability or sexuality. It’s unfortunate to think that there can be instances where employers will use this against their employees, but it can happen. So employees can be protected from such cases, there should be internal HR processes within the business that can help with such scenarios. If not, external organisations are present that can help employees to deal with such matters.

Severance Agreements

Severance agreements are formalities that are outlined in a contract which documents the responsibilities of both parties when a job termination occurs. It’s a form of compensation that’s agreed when contracts include a non-disclosure or non-compete agreement. It’s worth noting that these are subject to litigation so if your company offers this or you’re an employee that’s been offered one, aim to seek legal advice first through litigation solicitors first. This will help you understand what rights you have in place and what complications could arise with the agreement.

Employment law can cover a range of claims that occur between employers and employees. If you feel as though you’ve been wrongfully dismissed or have a dispute in your contract, it’s best to follow your internal processes or seek help from legal professionals who can guide you through the situation.

Jamie Costello is a legal assistant based in Manchester, UK. The topics he writes about varies from business law to dispute resolution. He uses his knowledge from education and working alongside internal litigations solicitors within his role to help collate his articles.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

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FURTHER READING: Working From Home During The CoronaVirus

READ MORE: 6 Apps Helping You Work Remotely

5 Tips for Achieving GDPR Compliance in HR & Payroll


As data breaches and violations have made consumers worry more about the risks of sharing their data online, the European Union has taken the initiative to make some changes. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the most sweeping data protection reforms in years that included 11 different chapters and 91 articles.

While the fines for violating the GDPR can be harsh, the language can sometimes be vague or hard to understand. And it’s not just reserved for European companies.

Any business that keeps the data of European customers for any reason needs to be GDPR compliant.

We’re going to focus on five of the smartest changes you can make regarding HR and payroll so  you can continue running your business confidently.

Understand the Data to Protect

The purview of the GDPR is broad, and that means that you may be liable for securing user data even if you aren’t dealing with sensitive financial information. In fact, the privacy data that the GDPR covers is quite sweeping. Some of this is basic. You need to keep the name and address of users safe as well as their general browsing data like the IP address, RFID tags, and cookies, but it also includes a ton of different demographic data.

A breach that exposes the racial or ethnic status of a user, their sexual or gender orientation, or their political affiliations could constitute a failure to comply with GDPR standards.

Those working in the health sector have even more to worry about, as the GDPR also protects genetic, biometric, and general health-related data.

And the businesses that GDPR provisions apply to are broad. If your company has more than 250 employees and handles the data of European citizens in any capacity, you’re liable to any fines that may come from a GDPR violation.

Assign Appropriate Oversight

A lot about the GDPR is vague. It asks, for instance, that personal data needs to be provided a reasonable amount of protection, assigning no standards for what qualifies as reasonable, and demands that users retain a vast amount of control over how their data is used.

Rights include the ability to receive their saved data in a standard format. Also to have their data removed at request, and be notified of any way in which their data is preserved. This means you need a well-organised system for recording and storing data and dedicated staff to make sure that they can fulfil user demands upon request.

There are three positions which you’ll need to assign to oversee issues with how your business handles personal data.

The data processor, data controller, and data protection officer each fulfil different roles and have different responsibilities.

They serve as checks and balances for various stages of data management. So making sure that you have assigned those roles to at least three qualified staff members will make sure you’re covered in the case of any incident with a data breach.

Come Up With a Response Plan

One of the most stringent restrictions in place with the GDPR is the fact that companies need to report a data breach to the proper authorities within 72 hours.

That can be difficult to achieve for smaller companies that don’t have the same resources as their larger competitors.

You’ll want to make sure you’ve drilled your team so they know precisely how to respond when the worst happens.

You don’t have to do it alone, either. If you’re having trouble figuring out a methodology for a quick response, there are plenty of experts out there who can help.

Whether that means bringing consultants on board to help you polish your plan or putting a contractor on retainer to handle your responses directly, asking for outside help can save you a whole lot of money on fines in the future.

Take Steps to Stay Compliant

One thing to remember about the GDPR is that it’s a living document. Changes aren’t uncommon, and regulators won’t give you the benefit of the doubt just because you didn’t know about a particular regulatory change.

Fortunately, there are resources you can use to keep up to date on the latest changes, but you’ll want to assign a staff member to take the responsibility of recognising any changes and letting the appropriate people know so they can apply relevant changes to company policies.

The other factor is that the rules for GDPR can vary from state to state.

You want to make sure that all of your research and regulations are tailored to where you live and what customers you’re doing business with.

The last thing you need to do is spend money staying compliant with costly rules that you don’t need to follow.

Implementing new regulations also means you need to update your systems and security protocols.

Legacy software and outdated systems can easily lead to compliance issues. If you haven’t updated your systems to meet the newest data safety standards, you should do so immediately.

Enterprise-level businesses that use custom-built software may have a dedicated software development team to manage internal tools and systems.

They can ensure that all company software meets both the company and GDPR standards, as well as making changes on the fly when the need arises.

Small businesses may not have such professionals on their team, but that doesn’t mean they should rely on third-party vendors to automatically adapt to new regulations.

Take a good look at the tools you use daily, what data they store and process, and for what purpose.

Start by updating systems that deal with the most sensitive data, and check with the service providers that their settings are compliant with GDPR standards.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to experts if you don’t feel confident implementing those changes on your own.

Recognising the Consequences

Between the sometimes ambiguous and obtuse language of the GDPR and the profitability of online data theft, it’s hard to ensure that you won’t unintentionally violate the regulations written into the GDPR.

That’s why it’s essential to know the consequences and be sure that you’re ready to pay them if necessary.

The most immediate cost is financial.

The GDPR has the same swing as a federal law, and violation fines are stiffer than most of the national or international standards in place.

But you also need to consider the impact a data breach can have on your reputation.

A data breach can be a public relations disaster for both small businesses and enterprise-level corporations. Understanding the scale of the impact a violation will have will help both you and your staff members take it seriously.

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favourite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters
 
 

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

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Why is CSR important for Businesses?


What is CSR?

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is something I first learned about in school over a decade ago. Back then, our business class teacher made CSR seem like something good companies would engage in. Something outside the norm of the ruthless profiteering and environmental pilfering by multinational conglomerates. Perhaps CSR was emerging as a fad back then. But in today’s world—a world I might add that is mere weeks away from the beginning of this millennium’s third decade—any business would be idiotic to ignore their social responsibilities to its customers and the planet. 

In a nutshell, CSR is “international private business self-regulation”—or soft law. The concept revolves around the idea of creating shared value for its shareholders in such a way that the society at large, and planet, can also benefit from the value stemming from the business succeeding. Key features of a CSR should account for things such as: environmental sustainability; conformity to human rights; decent employment conditions; and ethical business practices.

It’s a vital part of any modern business today. Here are some tips on why it matters more now than ever and what a company’s policy on corporate social responsibility should include. 

Why CSR matters

It pains me to admit that CSR is not in the slightest bit altruistic. I really wish it was, but the raving cynic in me refuses to believe that most businesses would sacrifice their profit margins to benefit the survival of the planet. Or anything else benevolent for that matter. Such altruism cannot be expected from the mortals running businesses that have the ultimate goal of maximising profit. Most (not all) Fortune 500 companies and any sizeable corporations that have in place a policy promoting corporate social responsibility, do so for one reason only. That reason is they absolutely will lose money and customers if they don’t. 

In 2017, 63 percent of the largest 100 companies, and 75 percent of the Global Fortune 250 reported applying the GRI reporting framework, a voluntary reporting system on sustainability. CSR is mainstream and if you don’t know what it is, you’re late to the party. 

Consumers are increasingly more aware of unsavoury business practices that adversely affect the society and environment they live in. Especially those in their 20s that adhere to the notion of collective responsibility. This generation is savvy to their ever-increasing power over what they choose to buy and who they buy it from. I know, I’m one of them. Being responsible is cool. I can attest to the fact that my friends, myself, and basically everyone I know in my age group, are incredible conscious about sourcing even the most mundane of products.

These are the types of people modern corporations must cater to. Forget what that dinosaur Milton Friedman said about how a company’s sole purpose is to maximise profits for its shareholders. Okay, boomer. And hashtag side eye while I’m at it.

By The Numbers: This Is What It Looks Like Now

According to a study on younger consumers (2017, Cone):

Younger consumers may not even know what CSR is, but they care more about what the concept of CSR espouses than any other age group of people.

  • 63% of all Americans are hopeful businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change moving forward in the absence of government regulation
  • 78% of Americans across all age brackets want companies to address important social justice issues
  • 87% of Americans across all age brackets will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about
  • 76% of Americans across all age brackets will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs 

Another report conducted by Accenture in 2018 asked consumers what primarily attracted consumers to a brand beyond price and quality. Unsurprisingly, a significant number of consumers listed reasons such as:

  • The brand has a great culture. It does what it says it will do and delivers on its promises
  • The company is transparent—with where it sources its materials, how it treats employees fairly, etc.
  • The company treats its employees well
  • The brand has ethical values and demonstrates authenticity in everything it does

Additionally, if you’re planning to hire anyone under the age of 35, consider:

  • Seventy-six percent of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work
  • 64% of millennials would not take a job if a potential employer didn’t have strong corporate social responsibility practices in place
  • Eighty-eight percent of millennials say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues

Environment and Society 

Do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint. Recycle, reuse, spend the extra dime to change to a supplier who is also environmentally friendly. Any steps they can take to reduce those footprints are considered good for both the company and society and can be publicised for the company’s benefit.

It really helps if the company’s culture shifts towards being environmentally friendly. If the employees of the company consider the environment every time they make a business decision, those little things can add up to substantial reduction in your carbon footprint. Natura, a Brazilian cosmetic company focuses on preserving biodiversity and traditional knowledge and culture in Amazonia. Their products are sustainably-sourced and biodegradable and has diversified its suppliers to empower smaller communities to reap the benefits of the company’s success. 

Ethical Labour Practices

I mentioned that millennials want to work at a company that has in place a strong CSR policy and a culture of responsibility towards society-at-large. And while ethical labour practices should also apply to them, this section is more concerned with companies that have businesses in countries that have atrocious worker protection laws, like China and Bangladesh. A fair-trade certification is a good way to show that your business adheres to ethical labour practices. Don’t be ignorant of criminal or unethical labour practices that happen within the warehouses and factories of your own company. Or those that your contractors and suppliers, and even your clients might engage in. It’s important to actively monitor how employees are treated in the course of business, and if unethical labour practices are discovered, quickly take steps to rectify this. 

Philanthropy and Community Engagement

Have a positive impact in the areas that your business operates in. This can be achieved by practicing social responsibility and donating money, products or services to social causes and non-profits that fosters sustainable growth and development in the community. I buy from BOMBAS, a company that sells socks, even though their prices are not cheap because they donate a pair of socks to charity for every pair they sell. So far, they’ve donated over 28 million pairs. 

A responsible, conscientious and sustainable approach to running a company is the only way forward.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

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READ MORE: Your Social Media Policy Could Determine Whether Your Business Lives Or Dies

RELATED READING: How Millennials Are Changing The Workforce Of Today

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