the cost of valentines day

We are all equal in the workplace but some of us are more equal than others… as George Orwell almost said. The UK’s #EmployeeRightsDay  shines a light on the rights we should celebrate, but also the stories we can share about experiences in the workplace. Founder Alex Monaco is an employment law solicitor and author of The Resignation Revolution. On the launch of his new book, he shares ten of the most important employee rights for women.

It's the UK's first Employee Rights Day!

It’s the UK’s first Employee Rights Day!

1.     Equal Pay

There may have been legislation on this since 1970, but it seems that employers are still playing catch up. Gender pay gap reporting was rolled out to include many employers this year. It shows a narrow pay gap between men and women in their 20s but one that widens with age, particularly in senior executive roles. A good start, but we have some way to go.

2.     Sexual Harassment

The #MeToo campaign has shone a light this year on how far we have to go, but the legislation does protect against unwanted conduct in the workplace and gives recourse to the Tribunal when it occurs.

3.     Equal Treatment

The right to not to be treated differently because of sex, marital status, or gender assignment are some of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

4.     National Minimum Wage

Women make up a large part of our low paid workforce. The National Minimum Wage offers a minimum hourly rate of pay. Whilst it should be a living wage, at least it sets the bar to stave off exploitation of our lowest paid.

5.     Maternity Pay

The right to receive crucial pay for up to 39 weeks following the birth of a child.

6.     Right to Return

Women have the right to return to their own job in the first six months following their maternity or adoption leave and a comparable job in the following six months.

7.     Shared Parental Leave

Gone are the days when taking time off to look after a new baby or child was for women only. Both parents now have the right to share parental leave and take time off in the first year of a new child in a family. The more men take parental leave will be a crucial part of developing a flexible approach to work and family life that will smash through the glass ceiling.

8.     Time Off Work for Family and Dependents

Emergencies happen and kids get sick. You have the right to take reasonable time off to look after dependants in an emergency. You don’t have the right to pay, but it is a start.

9.     Flexible Working

The right to request flexible working has been an important feature of workplace rights for the last 16 years. This allows for compacted hours, job shares, part-time jobs and home working.

10.  Reasonable Adjustments for Carers

This hasn’t happened yet, but we are hoping for change to the Equality Act to offer reasonable adjustments for those with caring responsibilities. Former Monaco Solicitors lawyer, Ellie Reeves MP, is co-sponsoring an Early Day Motion to make this change.

Alex Monaco

Alex Monaco

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There are many reasons you might want to use a home printer. You may work from home like my husband and occasionally need to print off documents including letters and leaflets. I home educate so am constantly searching for worksheets and other resources. It is so much easier to use them now we have a home printer to hand. There are also occasions when we need to scan things or to print photographs You do have to watch the costs though or it can all get a bit out of hand.


Set a budget for your printer

Before looking online or visiting a store, work out how much you want to spend on a printer. It is all to easy to get over-excited when clever marketing tools and savvy sales people are around. Ensure you actually need the features of a particular printer before letting go of your hard-earned cash.

Consider your Ink Costs

Over the years I have had printers where the printer inks made them really expensive to run. You need to work out how many pages one ink cartridge will actually print. As I always advise on this blog, take time to think before purchasing anything.

Choose the right paper

Paper varies so much from cheap and cheerful to expensive and fancy. If you are marketing yourself as a person via a Curriculum Vitae or your brand via marketing materials, it is worth investing in decent paper. For most other things, supermarket value paper really will suffice.

Print your photos away from home

I prefer to print photos using a high street store or an online retailer rather than doing them at home. For a start, I always find home printing of photos results in a poorer quality and there are such good deals out there on printing in bulk nowadays, it would be daft not to take advantage of them.

Use less ink

I recently discovered that if you go into your printer software settings, you can find something that might be called eco-mode or draft mode. These modes mean you are using less ink per job. Some printers will remind you of this cheaper option when you press print or carry out other print functions. Not every printing job needs to be pristine. Sometimes good enough really is good enough.

These tips will ensure you save money with your home printer. As we know, little savings all add up to a more frugal family life or a higher profit business-wise down the line.



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In an increasingly busy world, so many of us are turning to the convenience of online shopping. I wanted to let you know about the Boom25 cashback site.

I will be honest and confess that sometimes I do grocery shopping online as it means the children might be in bed so pester power is less than if they come shopping with me. I can do online shopping at a time that is convenient to me and check out bargains and offers more easily. There is also the time to reflect when something appeals rather than just making an impulse purchase at the supermarket.

Of course it is not just about the supermarket. Online purchases include booking holidays and flights for example and then there are the delights of Ebay. Although I was late to wake up to environmental matters, one thing I always did was buy second-hand goods. It saves money and you find  such interesting items too and I do love the quirky.


People have mentioned cashback sites to me before but I did not look into them properly. I recently heard about registering on Boom25 Cashback Site which costs nothing – but there is a chance to win your order for free. Obviously if you use a site regularly, it’s worth putting it through here, because – as opposed to the pennies you get with other cashback sites – you can win your entire single shop back here.  Times are tight for so many of us so this is well worth looking into.


How does Boom25 work?

It’s really easy to get registered. You can set up your account by entering your name, email address and chosen password. Then, you’ll be able to access your personalised dashboard, where you’ll see all of your shopping activity, details of your winnings and any bonuses. Once a purchase is approved it’s entered into a draw and you just might be the lucky winner. There are currently 886 shops to choose from with well-known brands  like Tesco, Asda, Expedia, Europcar, Legoland and Argos.  The largest cashback was apparently over £4000! You can also refer an unlimited amount of friends and win £3 on each of their first approved purchases above £10. There are also special, hot deals available from the different shops.

In 2019, I will be spending more time doing online shopping. We find all too often we are dashing out to the shops on a daily basis which takes up way too much time. I have recently purchased a big freezer and have started doing weekly large grocery shops and actually finally getting round to meal-planning. It really does save money and makes me feel far less overwhelmed about feeding the family healthy and tasty meals.

I am really hoping to book some holidays overseas next year too as I made that commitment to myself following my recent milestone birthday. Plus I had a whole list of fantasy gifts I would have liked that I know I can buy if I spread out the expenditure over the year.

If I have a chance of getting some of those items for free, what can I say except Boom 25?




Did you know that shoppers are expected to spend £2.4 billion on Black Friday deals? You could argue this is a little crazy when UK personal debts stands at £1.59 trillion with so many people struggling to make ends meet. You can put your head in the sand until after Christmas about your financial situation but that will only make things worse.

Black Friday

Black Friday

At its heart, Black Friday is an effective marketing strategy. So many minds have worked out just how to tempt you into spending what you cannot really afford. The reality is that you do not save money when you give in to Black Friday. You spend it and perhaps more than you intended and on stuff you did not want until big marketing budgets got into your head and heart.

Community Money Advice

Heather Keates, Chief Executive of Community Money Advice, says:

“Christmas is a challenging time for household finances. At a time of year when families pay more on essential bills such as heating, the cost of Christmas can push households further into debt. We would encourage families to stick to a budget and remember that what we spend in credit will need to be paid for in the new year”.

Debt counselling

As a former debt counsellor, I know how easily a change in  circumstances can often make it difficult for people to pay back debts which can leave people feeling trapped, isolated and powerless. You can’t always predict job losses, increases in fuel/food costs, bereavement or illness. However, sadly a real stigma remains around people who find themselves in financial difficulty.


Single mum Anna used catalogues and credit cards to get by until her circumstances changed when her Father died.

Black Friday

Anna, says:

“I felt really low and ignored my debts and bills. Eventually my debts got sold on to a debt collection company who began knocking on my door regularly … to make sure my daughter had what she needed I would go without, things like new clothes for work or even food. It’s been really important to receive long-term support … since gaining a Debt Relief Order I have been helped to budget and apply for discounts I’m entitled to. Overall I’m a much happier person … if you’re in trouble, you might have to push past your boundaries to get the help you need”.

Seek help

I agree with Anna. It is a sign of strength to ask for help. We are blessed in the UK in having charities that can help us free of charge with a whole range of issues. We have several money advice charities only too happy to help.

Community Money Advice manages a network of 159 debt advice charities where 1,200 advisors are currently offering face-to-face help and practical support to 5,328 families, managing £154 million of debt. Face-to-face advice and support is a lifeline to people trapped in debt. In 2018 Community Money Advice helped 19,059 people find freedom from debt and hope for the future.

Community Money Advice are asking anyone experiencing stress because of money problems to seek professional help.

For more information, please visit

Black Friday Warning



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