Legislation and regulation
November 24, 2016
Changes in business rates announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement are likely to hit hardest the areas in the Capital such as Shoreditch and Fitzrovia where innovative tech companies are located, commented Jon Neale, head of UK Research, JLL. “The impact will no doubt undermine government plans to boost tech investment under its ‘Industrial Strategy’ announced earlier this week,” he said. “Meanwhile, office costs are high in London and post Brexit we need to minimise the risk that companies, will see cheaper continental cities such as Berlin as better bet place to set up shop.” He did add however that the promised “£1.3bn to improve roads and ease congestion is welcome and is likely to unlock development sites and promote economic development in many parts of the country. If the UK is to really address the challenges and opportunities of Brexit, investment in infrastructure needs to be more ambitious as well as more focused on an increasingly digital, hi-tech future. Green and smart city technology, new tram and underground networks and truly high-speed broadband would help provide precisely the platform UK business needs.”
November 14, 2016
The implications of Brexit are raising concerns over a reduction in employers’ intentions to invest in their staff and its effects on access to migrant labour. As a result, according to the latest quarterly CIPD/Adecco Group Labour Market Outlook, while employment growth looks set to continue in the UK, there are signs that this is beginning to slow and that real wages are likely to fall during 2017 for many employees. The data shows that the net employment balance, while remaining in positive territory at +22, based on the difference between the share of employers expanding their workforce and the share of employers reducing their workforce, has shown a slight negative decline from the previous quarter’s figure of +27. Although 42 percent of employers believe that future restrictions on EU labour could damage their UK operations, just 15 percent have started to prepare for this eventuality; which is probably why the vast majority are against a ‘hard Brexit’.
November 9, 2016
The decision by the UK electorate to leave the European Union has created widespread uncertainty in almost all areas of law, with employment law particularly affected. A large amount of present UK employment law has its base in EU law, which means a withdrawal from the EU could result in UK employment rights no longer being guaranteed by the EU. This leaves both employees and employers in a state of flux and uncertainty, and the approach that has thus far been taken by the government appears to have been driven, to a very large degree, by a desire to create a sense of continuity. Both the Prime Minister Theresa May and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, have repeatedly sought to offer reassurances that the rights of workers will remain largely unchanged post-Brexit. Given the political situation, however, it is entirely possible that this may end up being simple rhetoric rather than a deliverable result.
November 9, 2016
Ethnic minority representation in the Boardrooms across the FTSE 100 and 250 is disproportionately low and does not reflect the ethnic diversity of either the UK or the stakeholders they seek to engage and represent; a new industry-led review has revealed. Given the fact that the UK will be the most diverse country in Western Europe by 2051, with over 30 percent of the population expected to be comprised of people from ethnic minority or migrant backgrounds, each FTSE 100 Board should have at least one director of colour by 2021, and each FTSE 250 Board by 2024. These are the main recommendations of the Parker Review report, Beyond One by ‘21 which found that out of 1,087 director positions in the FTSE 100, only 8 percent of positions are held by directors of colour, of which 1.5 percent are UK citizens, despite the fact that 14 percent of the total UK population is from a non-white ethnic group (up from 2 percent in 1971).
October 27, 2016
8Women across the globe earn on average just over half of what men earn despite, on average, working longer hours when taking paid and unpaid work into account. The world is facing an acute misuse of talent by not acting faster to tackle this gender inequality, which could put economic growth at risk and deprive economies of the opportunity to develop, warns the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, which is published today. The latest edition of the annual benchmarking exercise that measures progress towards parity between men and women in four areas: Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, Economic Opportunity and Political Empowerment finds that progress towards parity in the key economic pillar has slowed dramatically with the gap – which stands at 59 percent – now larger than at any point since 2008. Aside from salary, another persistent challenge is stagnant labour force participation, with the global average for women standing at 54 percent, compared to 81 percent for men. The UK is ranked 20th overall in the global index and of those countries in Western Europe, the UK falls in the bottom half of the table. In respect of economic participation and opportunity, the UK is ranked 53.
October 26, 2016
A gap is emerging between UK businesses regarding the impact of Brexit, with large businesses significantly more optimistic about the future than their small business counterparts, joint research by NGA Human Resources (NGA HR) and its SMB division, Moorepay suggests. Six in ten (59 percent) respondents working for large businesses expect Brexit to have a positive impact on their business, but only 35 percent of SMBs share this view. In fact, a quarter of (25 percent) SMB employees in the UK actually believe their situation will worsen after the UK has left the European Union. Looking ahead, the majority (79 percent) of larger UK businesses are ready to address the challenges and exploit the opportunities resulting from Brexit, whereas just over half of small businesses (56 percent) feel the same. Asked about their wish list for a post-Brexit economy, all UK businesses agree that access to the single market is the biggest advantage of the EU membership and one that both large businesses (64 percent) and SMBs (54 percent) would like to retain. Additionally, opening up trade to new countries and markets is seen as the main advantage of Brexit for both large (70 percent) and smaller businesses (54 percent), followed by freedom from EU laws and regulations (both 48 percent).
October 4, 2016
Recent research by the Commons Women and Equalities Committee suggests that around 54,000 expectant and new mothers have no choice but to leave work due to pregnancy discrimination or concerns over the safety of their children; and shockingly, this figure has doubled in the last decade alone. Other research carried out by the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills shows that despite 77 percent of working mothers reporting potentially discriminatory or negative experiences, only 28 percent raised the issue with their employer, and less than 1 percent pursued a claim through the tribunal system. As a mother of two young children, this is a topic very close to my heart. I have worked in HR for over 18 years now, and advised on all manner of employee relations issues and know from personal experience that being pregnant and suffering discrimination or redundancy is not at all unusual.
September 23, 2016
Over a third (36 percent) of managers are unaware of anything their organisation does to attract, retain and engage older employees despite two-thirds (66 percent) believing the average age of retirement will increase in the next five to ten years. This is according to a new white paper from AXA PPP healthcare – Supporting fuller working lives – How organisations can embrace older employees and those with caring responsibilities. It warns that with the proportion of people aged 50 to 64 and aged 65+ in employment on the up (from 55 percent to 70 percent and from 5 percent to 10 percent, respectively, since 1984) and an estimate by Carers UK that nearly two-thirds of people are likely to end up caring for someone at some point in their lives. Yet the research claims that many businesses are not sufficiently adjusted to the changing nature of the workforce and not tuned in enough to helping workers who are often sandwiched between caring for older relatives and their offspring.
September 22, 2016
It seems the news earlier this year that a woman from an FM company based at PwC had been sent home for not wearing heels is sadly not an isolated incident, as employers regularly tell women to put on more makeup, wear high heels and short skirts. The research by solicitors Slater and Gordon claims large numbers of women feel their employer has unfairly criticised their appearance in the workplace, with nearly one in five (19 percent) saying they felt more attention was paid to their appearance by their bosses than to their male peers. Shockingly, nearly one in 10 women (seven percent) have been told by bosses they preferred them to wear high heels whilst in the office or with clients, because it made them “more appealing”. Many women revealed they had been told to dress more provocatively and to be “sexier” – with almost 90 percent (86 percent) of those pressured to dress “sexier” and feeling their career might suffer if they didn’t comply.
September 20, 2016
Bosses are divided on whether staff morale will suffer following Brexit, with 48 percent of respondents to a recent survey believing it will and 51 percent expecting no change, despite 74 percent of organisations believing employees are at least ‘somewhat concerned’ by the impact of the vote. Though the majority of companies (82 percent) believe it is their duty to keep employees informed of the potential impact of Brexit on their organisations, few (11 percent) have started communicating openly. The report by Mercer, Planning for Brexit – Talent Implications, also suggests the while the true impact of potential changes to immigration policy remains unknown so far, talent availability is being seen as a top long-term challenge. Over half (58 percent) of companies think their workforce plans will change in the longer term and the majority (66 percent) anticipate a stronger focus on developing and promoting talent from within to compensate for a possible lack of access to wider talent pools.
September 15, 2016
Over two thirds of employees (68.3 percent) say that they feel guilty for taking sick days despite the fact that they’re vastly less productive when they do show up ill, a new survey suggests. Yet more than two thirds (67.5 percent) still go into work when they are unwell, and over half (54.6 percent) report that their employer does not send them home when they’ve felt ill at work. According to the research from CV-Library, the average employee (66.4 percent) only takes between one to two sick days a year; and of those that do take time off, over a third (34.2 percent) of employees say their managers put pressure on them to return to work early and a further 44.7 percent said their employer questions their sickness when they are ill. Worse still, it seems that over half (52.9 percent) of managers still contact their employees whilst they are off sick, adding extra pressure and not giving staff time, and space, to relax and recover.
September 14, 2016
A new alliance between leading businesses and the Equality and Human Rights Commission is being launched today to combat the level of pregnancy and maternity discrimination that affects around 390,000 pregnant women and new mothers each year. A coalition of businesses in the initiative ‘Working Forward – supporting pregnancy and maternity rights’, aims to inspire other organisations to follow their example by working to eradicate discrimination from their businesses and show employers how to attract, develop and retain women at work. The launch follows the EHRC’s recent landmark research, carried out in conjunction with the former Department from Business, Innovation and Skills which highlighted that while the majority of employers say they are firm supporters of female staff during and after pregnancy and find it easy to comply with the law, three in four (77 percent) mothers say they have had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience at work.