Legislation and regulation
July 28, 2016
For all that everybody bangs on about Millennials, it’s increasingly apparent that the workforce in most nations is actually getting older and that it’s not just Governments who are keen to keep older staff in work, but also people themselves. A new study from MetLife based on Government data claims that nearly one in seven over-65s in the UK are boosting their retirement income by working, earning around £296 in addition per week. The data suggests that the numbers of over-65s working has increased from just 8 percent of the pensioner population to 13 percent in the last ten years, the equivalent of 1.1 million people. Median earnings from working are £296 a week adding up to annual pay of nearly £15,400. The need to keep working is underlined by the continuing squeeze on saving and investment income, which generates just £312 a year for pensioners on average. The proportion of pensioners earning money from investments has dropped from 72 percent in 2004/05 to around 64 percent now. Around 72 percent of all pensioners have private or company pensions compared with 66 percent a decade ago.
July 28, 2016
New guidance from Acas has been issued to help employers prepare for potential problems with employees that could arise during the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro next month. With Rio 2016 taking place in Brazil between 5th and 21st August, Acas has advised employers and small businesses to have agreements in place that cover requests for time off, sickness absence, website use during working hours or watching TV during this period. It is advised that employers should start planning as soon as possible to reduce the impact that the Olympic Games could have on their business as annual leave requests could be generally higher during the summer holiday period. Employers might want to gauge the level of interest in the games with their employees, have open communications about suggested changes to working practices which balance staff request with the needs of the business to minimise any potential impact on productivity.
July 20, 2016
For those who recall the endless arguments about the rights of smokers and non-smokers that took place both before and after the ban on smoking in public places, the news that Public Health England has advised employers to set up vaping rooms for e-cigarette users will have a familiar feel. The governmental body claims that employers should make it comparatively easier for people to vape in an effort to persuade more smokers to kick their tobacco habit in favour of vaping, which it claims is 95 percent safer. While it acknowledges that smokers are commonly obliged to huddle outside buildings to indulge their habit, the advice suggests that being forced to vape outdoors as well only serves to “undermine their ability to quit smoking”. The advice suggests that of the 2.8 million people who now vape in the UK, the overwhelming majority are former smokers. However, although their habit is less harmful than tobacco smoking, employers treat both groups in the same way.
July 12, 2016
A coalition of twenty major European telecommunications firms has come together to drive the rapid creation of a continent wide 5G network and warn national Governments and the EU of the dangers of over-regulation. The seven page document entitled the 5G Manifesto for timely deployment of 5G in Europe, is backed by firms such as Vodafone, Telenor, Orange, Nokia, BT, Ericsson, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, and Hutchison. Its core aim is to showcase the technology on a large scale by 2018 and launch a commercial network capability in at least one city in every EU nation by 2020. The document outlines the features and benefits of the technology but also sets out the potential risks posed by over-regulation, including the possible threat to net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites
July 8, 2016
As the news breaks that the UK is to have a female Prime Minister by the Autumn, it emerges that progress for women among executive ranks and in the executive pipeline remains slow. According to the latest Female FTSE Report, by academics at Cranfield School of Management, City University London and Queen Mary University London, while the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards has increased to 26 percent and to 20.4 percent on the FTSE 250 boards this year, the rate of progress has slowed since the Davies closing report in October 2015. As a result board turnover rates have decreased and the percentage of new appointments going to women over the past six months is only 24.7 percent, the lowest since September 2011. This is short of the increase required to meet the 33 percent board target by 2020 as set out in the Davies report, requiring FTSE 350 board to have 27 percent by the end of 2016.
July 5, 2016
Tim Peake’s recent return home from space at the end of a six month stay in the International Space Station highlighted just how essential it is for people to stay in contact with their friends, family and the rest of the world, literally from wherever they may be. Of course, back on Earth we now take it for granted that we are in a state of constant connectedness to the rest of the world. So the idea of someone being out of contact, even for brief periods of time, strikes us as odd. Perhaps that partly explains our fascination with the experiences of astronauts and other people who cannot take connectivity for granted. But it’s not just astronauts who have to consider how to enjoy the connectedness that we normally assume to be ours by right. People who work at sea face the same challenge and you could argue that it is more important for such truly remote workers to be in contact with other people and the Internet. So who fares better when it comes to achieving connectivity?
July 5, 2016
According to the latest governmental statistics, apprenticeships reached a record high in 2014/15 with over 871,000 apprenticeship participants within the UK. The majority of these were in the service sector, and almost three quarters were concentrated in three sectors: Business, Administration and Law; Retail and Commerce Enterprise and Public Services and Care. Last year the government announced its plans to introduce a new UK-wide levy on large employers in a bid to fund apprenticeships and to create 3 million more apprentices by 2020. Due for implementation in April 2017, this levy promises to have a significant impact on the existing apprenticeship landscape. As the implementation of the apprenticeship levy draws nearer, it is rising to the top of companies’ HR and Finance agendas, as businesses attempt to work out how to reap a return on investment, with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) calling for the Government to put off its introduction.
July 5, 2016
This Friday will be the UK’s least productive day for the whole Summer, according to a study by HR and payroll firm Moorepay. The study is based on the plans UK workers say they have to watch the various sports events on that day, which include Wimbledon, the British Formula 1 Grand Prix practice and Tour de France. The previous evening sees the semi final between Germany and France at Euro 2016. The report claims that one-third of the staff are planning on watching events while at work, with one in six (17 percent) admitting their productivity will drop as a result. The authors suggest that firms are underestimating the impact, with 79 percent believing productivity in their company will be unaffected. With, on average, 10 per cent of staff on leave any given week and another one in ten planning on calling in sick to watch sport, businesses face staff shortages and prolonged dips in productivity, claims the report.
June 24, 2016
In this week’s Newsletter; Sathesh Alagappan outlines the impact on UK employment law following the Brexit vote; Mark Eltringham looks at taking transparent office design to new extremes; and why, according to Dr Piers Steel, this is the golden age of procrastination. Over a third of jobs in the tech and creative sector found within the Capital; a lack of trust precludes employees from donning wearables in the workplace; and new liability rules for the automated workforce of sophisticated ‘smart’ robots. News that 15 percent of organisations in the UK don’t place any focus on the mental health and wellbeing of employees; small firms more likely to adopt virtual working and both UK and US staff routinely work beyond their contracted hours. You can download our Insight Briefing, produced in partnership with Connection, on the boundless office; visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
June 23, 2016
One of the main side issues in the generally unpleasant debate about the UK’s referendum on EU membership has been that about worker’s rights. Whatever the outcome of today’s vote, the EU is already exploring ways in which legislation should address the challenges created by the modern world. These now include, for the first time, a look at the implications of automation including the drawing up of a new set of rules about the rights and responsibilities of robots and other automated workers. A draft report from the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs sets out to address the main issues associated with the creation of a widespread automated workforce and its impact on both people and machines, including looking at the impact on the social security and pensions budget (because robots don’t pay into the system), the legal rights of robots and new liability rules for the automated workforce of sophisticated ‘smart’ robots.
June 23, 2016
The result of yesterday’s EU referendum vote will dominate the UK’s political scene for months now and the outcomes will be followed with particular interest by business owners, who currently have to adhere to a range of employment laws that either originate from the EU itself or have been developed within the context of our membership of the organisation. Therefore, a vote for Brexit today could fundamentally change the way businesses operate in the UK. This is particularly true given that a large amount of the UK’s employment law has its roots in Brussels. Article 153 of The Lisbon Treaty set the precedent for this. It allowed the EU to create a base level of legislation that applies to all facets of the workplace. This includes working hours, workers’ rights, and health and safety. Individual nations are free to supplement this with their own legislation. For example, the minimum wage is an example of employment legislation that is independent of the EU.
June 17, 2016
The Euros 2016 are underway. It’s an exciting time for the nation, but not so much for businesses that are potentially facing a largely absent workforce, be it physically or simply because they will spend at least 90 minutes of their afternoon glued to their mobile phones watching the match. Some employees might have been organised enough to book annual leave for the afternoon, but for many, they will be devising a cunning plan as to how they can get away to watch the match. Employers can expect to be faced with a hike in “sickies” and last minute requests to work from home as suddenly there’s a delivery due or a poorly child to look after. Some employees will just decide to chance it and not come back to the office after their lunch breaks, with no pre-authorisation at all. So what should you be doing as an employer?