1. Introduction
    1.  St John’s Buildings aims to provide a safe and supportive environment for members, pupils and employees to conduct their working lives and practices. We therefore aim to do all we reasonably can to support the health and wellbeing of our people as a good employer and a collegiate and supportive chambers to practise in.
    2. Work can have a positive impact on happiness, health and wellbeing. Healthy and well-motivated barristers and staff can have an equally positive impact on the productivity and effectiveness of Chambers. Therefore, fostering a working environment that supports and protects the physical and mental wellbeing of its people is good for Chambers’ business.
    3. Chambers recognises that supporting wellbeing requires both a pro-active approach to seek to maintain a positive state of wellbeing for all and the readiness to react where wellbeing is challenged and impaired.
    4. Responsibility for health and wellbeing at work belongs to everyone in Chambers. Factors that can influence this include:
      • Relationships amongst and between staff and barristers, within and across teams;
      • Relationships between line managers and their staff;
      • Whether staff and barristers feel they have a voice in Chambers and feel involved in organisational issues and decisions, particularly those affecting their work or practice;
      • Job/practice satisfaction – fulfilling work, positive feedback, development, etc.;
      • Income meeting more than just basic needs;
      • Work-life balance, including flexibility and support when needed during changing life events;
      • Awareness of occupational health issues and appropriate action to address and support;
      • Whether the principles of fairness, equality, diversity and inclusion are experienced in the workplace.
    5. This policy sets out Chambers’ commitment to wellbeing for its people, the actions and approach it takes and arrangements in place to support it.
  2. A Positive Work Environment
    1. In order to maintain a positive work environment in relation to Chambers’ buildings and facilities we undertake the following actions:
      • Provide attractive, bright and comfortable buildings, workspaces and conference facilities;
      • Provide clean and pleasant toilet and, where possible, shower facilities;
      • Provide clean and hygienic kitchen areas;
      • Where buildings allow, separate spaces are set out for breaks away from the usual workstation and to enable people in Chambers to meet;
      • Ensuring we have regular health and safety risk assessments, with action plans and reviews;
      • Carry out workstation assessments for all staff members to ensure set up is ergonomically sound and encourage the taking of regular screen breaks.
    2. In order to make the environment welcoming and supportive we expect the following behaviours:
      • Polite and friendly conduct towards each other;
      • Welcoming visitors (to buildings, rooms, office etc.);
      • Respecting the cleanliness of kitchens and bathrooms by clearing up after use (e.g., putting cutlery and crockery in the dishwashers, using bins for waste, wiping up any spills we make).
      • Concerns, e.g. regarding service, to be raised in a constructive manner that respects the right to dignity at work (raising with a manager where appropriate);
      • Being mindful of the Health and Safety Policy by not leaving trip hazards and clutter in Chambers and notifying a member of the staff team/Senior Management Team of any potential hazards, incidents, accidents or near misses;
      • Barristers and pupils to spend time in Chambers to meet their clerks and other barrister colleagues and, where they can help, to be available as mentors and guides to more junior colleagues;
      • Employees to follow the Homeworking Policy and ensure that there are people in Chambers to greet, assist and support barrister members and pupils on site both at times help is known to be needed (e.g., seminars, conferences, reviews) and for ad hoc visits to the clerks’ rooms, which are encouraged.
    3. We can further support each other with other behaviours:
      • Offering recognition/praise where it is a due for a particularly good effort/outcome. This can be very motivational and uplifting whether it is about the service our staff give to members and clients, a barristers’ performance in court or an advice prepared by a new pupil, for example.
      • Noticing when someone is struggling and offering support or raising with somebody who might more appropriately be able to do so.
  3. Work Life Balance
    1. Barristers and Pupils
      1. Because barristers in Chambers are self-employed there is an assumption that they have control of their work-life balance.   However, the very fact of being self-employed can add pressures that are not experienced by employees. The desire to maintain a busy practice, a steady income and to keep clerks and clients happy can result in taking on too much work. This can cause an unsustainable imbalance between working and personal life and may lead to unhealthy stress levels and poor health and wellbeing generally.
      2. Chambers wishes to support its members to have sustainable careers at the Bar and fulfilling lives overall. It therefore has a positive approach towards flexible working for barristers and has trained its clerks to appreciate that flexibility may be required at times in the short, medium or longer term and how to respect and accommodate that, while guiding and supporting barristers with their practice objectives. We recognise that it is not every barrister’s objective to earn as much money as possible or to be busy all the time and that each member is different and will have different and changing priorities throughout their career.
      3. Members should feel they can speak to their clerks to ask for flexibility when they need it. There is a Flexible Working Policy in place for members with guidance on what to consider and discuss with Senior Clerks when looking to make a change to working hours, days and/or location. Clerks are also trained to identify when flexibility may be advised, and this may be raised where a Senior Clerk has reason to believe a barrister may be struggling.
      4. In certain circumstances, e.g. long-term ill health, extended career breaks and sabbaticals, Chambers Charging Policy allows for a pause or adjustment to the charging arrangement to support a non-practising period.
      5. Pupils will be guided by their supervisors and relevant members of the Senior Management Team as to what is required of them to complete their pupillage and how to seek flexibility and time when needed.  Pupils are told they can take 20 days holiday per year (in addition to public and Bank Holidays), with up to 10 days in each of the first and second six. Chambers will take a reasonable and sensitive approach to supporting pupils needing flexibility for life events, family or health reasons and compassionate circumstances wherever they arise. Our Pupil Supervisors Handbook advises supervisors to look out for signs of excessive hours worked and to discuss this with their pupils to help guide them on prioritising and managing their workload, while the Senior Clerk can review the amount of work allocated (in the practising period) and the preparation time given.
      6. While Chambers understand the benefits to members of working remotely, we do encourage members to come into our sites regularly for the following reasons:
        • To ensure that Chambers remains a place where barristers can meet, mentor and support each other;
        • To avoid feelings of isolation for themselves and others, particularly pupils and junior members who more often may have moved to the city recently and live alone, need more reassurance and to make new acquaintances, build networks and so on;
        • To have quality in-depth conversations with clerks and build a positive rapport with them, particularly with new members joining our teams, rather than having a simply transactional relationship – this can help to better understand what is happening in day-to-day practice, in your life that may impact your work, to discuss news and opportunities, and to check on welfare;
        • To take advantage of the facilities in Chambers and enable some separation between work and home life.
    2. Employees
      1. Chambers operates a Flexible Working Policy through which employees can request a change to their working arrangements and have that seriously considered.    Chambers will always consider the requests properly and consider alternatives where the original request cannot be accommodated.
      2. Chambers’ Time Off Policy covers the provisions for employees who need immediate and/or temporary flexibility to deal with domestic emergency situations, care needs for children or adults they care for and other situations affecting their ability to attend work.
      3. Chambers has developed a Home Working Policy for employees setting out the circumstances in which employees may be able to work from home to further support work-life balance. There is a careful balance to strike between ensuring we provide a supportive and welcoming environment in Chambers for our members and enabling homeworking for employees which is carefully set out in the Policy document.
  4. Mental Health and Wellbeing
    1. Our mental health can be impacted by any aspect of our lives. Chambers wishes to do all it reasonably can to protect the mental wellbeing of barristers, pupils and employees and to support anyone experiencing poor mental health in the way that is most appropriate to their individual needs.
    2. We aim to prevent work being a source of negative stress by:
      • Ensuring employees are welcomed into their team and the organisation and provided with training and support needed to do their jobs;
      • Having programmed inductions for pupils and new barristers to ensure they are settled into the organisation and introduced to the staff team and barrister colleagues;
      • Providing role clarity for employees through clear job descriptions, setting agreed objectives at appraisal – checking with employees that these are achievable;
      • Providing appropriate technology to support the role and seeking swift solutions to technical problems when these impact workflow;
      • Holding regular one-to-one meetings between staff and managers so that there is a private opportunity to check on welfare, discuss and prioritise workload and any training needs and raise concerns;
      • Offering Practice Development Reviews with members in which wellbeing is specifically enquired of and training clerks to check in on members (particularly those who may not have attended Chambers for some time);
      • Managing attendance in staff teams with the aim of ensuring we are not under-resourced, putting undue strain on those present;
      • Holding return to work meetings following periods of absence to check employees are ready to return to work, update them on any changes in the workplace and to check if work in any way caused the period of ill health or whether any adjustments are necessary;
      • Responding promptly to any concerns raised regarding conduct that affects dignity in at work for employees, pupils or members, and taking swift action to resolve issues, including issuing disciplinary sanctions where deemed appropriate;
      • Taking action where external pressures (e.g. changes in court systems and practices) are having a detrimental impact on members and staff.
    3. Managers are trained to be alert to the signs of stress and/or poor mental health and to look out for these in both employees and barristers/pupils.   Where they see these signs or concerns are raised with them by others, they will seek to meet with the person concerned to enquire and offer support.    Where an employee is experiencing work-related stress – the Human Resources team will be consulted and will offer support and advice.  They may carry out a Stress Risk Assessment with the employee and their manager and where appropriate and consented to, arrange an appointment with an occupational health specialist to seek further advice on how to support the individual.
    4. Chambers provides a signposting leaflet for barristers and pupils, setting out the many sources of support available to members for a range of issues, but with a significant focus on mental wellbeing and support. This includes signposts to Barrister Mentors in Chambers who have volunteered to be available to colleagues for support, offering a range of experience of issues that are faced at the Bar. It also includes details of the Assistance Programme, which provides a confidential helpline 24/7, 365 days of the year and access to free counselling sessions.
    5. The same Assistance Programme is available to staff. Chambers also provides Private Medical Insurance to staff, which may offer a further potential avenue of support for more involved and longer-term therapies and administer a group scheme which barristers may pay to join if they wish on an annual basis.
  5. Physical Health and Wellbeing
    1. By ensuring that Chambers physical environments are in keeping with health and safety regulations and following the actions on our risk assessments, we aim to ensure our workplaces are safe and the risk of physical harm is minimised. We have trained First Aiders and Fire Marshalls in all sites to assist in emergency situations.
    2. We have learned from the recent Covid-19 pandemic, in which we followed the rules and guidance set out by the NHS and the Government to successfully minimise the spread of infection in our sites. While we cannot see or prevent viruses and other infections from spreading, we can and do encourage staff and members to seriously consider attending the workplace if they are unwell and have symptoms which present an obvious risk to others in the vicinity, such as coughing and sneezing, and to consider working at home (if well enough) or having a day of sickness absence when unwell.
    3. Chambers will make adjustments in line with its Reasonable Adjustments Policy where we reasonably can support members, pupils, staff and visitors with disabilities, which may include physical adjustments to the workplace or other work arrangements. As with mental wellbeing, where an employee may need such adjustments, the advice of a qualified occupational health professional will normally be sought.
    4. Chambers provides a health cash plan for employees which will reimburse the cost of a sight test (which is recommended to be undertaken every two years for all using display screens for work) and encourages the regular taking of screen breaks when working at a computer.
    5. The private medical insurance provided to employees (and separate group scheme administered by Chambers for members) can also be used to expedite treatment for any physical medical conditions (as well as supporting mental health as above). Members wishing to obtain a quote to join the group private medical insurance policy should contact a member of the Human Resources team.
  6. Training
    1. Chambers is committed to providing training both to help those managing and supporting others with their wellbeing and for those looking to build their own resilience and learn strategies to support their wellbeing at work.
    2. Training provided has included:
      • Managing stress in the workplace;
      • Clerks’ training re supporting sustainable careers and the wellbeing of barristers;
      • Personal resilience and stress management;
      • Time management;
      • Mental Health First Aider training;
      • First Aid training;
      • Fire Marshall training.
    3. Chambers encourages anyone wishing for support regarding managing their wellbeing, or that of others they support in the workplace, to discuss their needs with their clerk, manager or  the Head of Human Resources.
  7. Relevant Policies and Resources
    1. The following policies and resources are linked to the delivery of this policy and are available on request from our Human Resources team:


Barristers/Pupils Employees All
SJB Barrister Welfare Flexible Working Policy Health & Safety Policies, including Lone Working.
Wellbeing Guidance for Pupils Time Off Policy Dignity at Work (Prevention of Bullying & Harassment) Policy
Flexible Working Policy Sickness Absence Management Policy Equality Policy & Anti-Racism Statement
Charging Policy Employee Benefits Guides – including Counselling Reasonable Adjustments Policy
Parental Leave Policy Parental Leave Policies Menopause Policy


  1. Communication & Review
    1. Chambers will review this policy and its Wellbeing provisions regularly (at least once per year) and notify members and employees of any changes.
    2. Chambers will ensure this policy is available to all in SharePoint and will regularly communicate sources of support available to members, pupils and employees.