Legislation and regulation
September 8, 2016
The transition from team member to manager can be a challenge. Well trained front line managers are crucial for business performance but need the right tools to help them do their jobs says workplace experts Acas, which is calling on small businesses and larger companies to use its new guidance to ensure that staff are equipped to manage and care for their teams. The new guide highlights leadership, people management and strong organisational skills as three key areas for team leaders. It advises the managers should know how to build trust and respect with their teams, listen to their concerns and ideas. They should also learn how to manage tricky situations with people; for whether it’s staff members having family problems, two colleagues accusing each other of bullying, or jealousy in a team over nominations for training and bonuses. A good manager should also be effective at planning team work, rotas, budgets, and balancing their own time.
September 6, 2016
Blink and you’ll miss some news item on Brexit, so here’s just some of the stuff we’ve picked up on the last few days. It’s hard to imagine that any of these stories might be woven into some sort of coherent narrative, especially when the Prime Minister has yet to announce any details or timescales for the UK’s mooted withdrawal from the EU, if not the Single Market. Some of the ifs and buts are laid out in this excellent blog, but the reality is that nobody really knows what will happen and, as the writer suggests, the UK may not have the expertise to deliver a coherent withdrawal anyway. In the meantime, there appears to be some sense that business is returning to normal. The key CIPS/Markit survey of business confidence has bounced back both quickly and strongly and there are other signs that not all is doom and gloom. That said, there are clear signs that overseas partners are spooked amid the uncertainty even though the still low Sterling exchange rate continues to make the UK attractive.
August 24, 2016
Personal injury lawyers may have helped fuel the UK’s overzealous health and safety culture, but the truth is that their services are often called for to challenge negligent employers. Now a new piece of research by Hayward Baker claims that many employees are not only stuck in unsafe workplaces but with unsanitary working conditions, which is putting their health at risk. The research into over a thousand workers on the conditions of Britain’s offices, shops, factories, warehouses and building sites found that 69 percent believe their workplace to be a health hazard. The study revealed 35 percent of working Brits have picked up an illness from their place of work – with 18 percent claiming to have been struck down with food poisoning or caught a stomach bug because of dirty conditions. A further 39 percent have suffered an injury at work – with two in ten (20 percent) having been to hospital due to a work-related illness or injury.
August 11, 2016
A series of reports published in the past few days highlight the challenges faced by Britain’s disabled workers. The studies claim separately that disabled workers are keen to work but are less likely to be in employment and may be hiding disabilities from employers, are paid less when they are in work and that many employers do not feel they are well equipped to deal with the needs of disabled staff. The first study from Reed in Partnership and Disability Rights UK found that one in ten employers do not feel able to support a disabled employee. Meanwhile research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that employees who experience mental ill-health earn up to 42 per cent less than colleagues. A third report from Citizen’s Advice found that 40 percent of disabled people would like to work but can’t find a job. And finally a report from RIDI claims that many people applying for jobs may be hiding their disability from employers.
August 10, 2016
New research questions how much demand exists in the UK for fathers to take shared parental leave. The first available figures reveals a low take-up of new rights to paid leave, as just 3,000 new parents took advantage of the system in the first three months of 2016 – one year on from its introduction. By contrast, approximately 52,000 fathers and 155,000 mothers took paternity and maternity leave in an equivalent time period in 2013/14. The figures were published as a result of a freedom of information request from law firm EMW who suggest that this shows that the new rules are being significantly under-utilised and policymakers need to give more consideration to what benefits future changes to employment law will actually deliver versus the impact on small businesses which have to implement them. The new Shared Parental Leave system allows parents to share paid time off between them, in place of (and at the same rate as) Statutory Maternity Pay.
August 1, 2016
Around one in five employees in the UK are feeling pessimistic about the security of their current job because of the Brexit vote to leave the EU, a new survey by the CIPD claims. Answering a range of questions, including how they felt about the future as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, around 44 percent of the 1,000 working adults who took part felt pessimistic about the future, with this being particularly high amongst public sector workers (61 percent), voluntary sector workers (58 percent) and people aged 25-34 (63 percent). 22 percent said they felt their job was less secure now. The CIPD’s survey also highlighted incidents of harassment and bullying in the workplace relating to the Brexit decision, with more than one in ten employees saying that they have experienced, witnessed or heard of incidents of harassment or bullying of a political nature and just under one in ten (7 percent) referenced incidents of a racist nature (7 percent).
July 29, 2016
Employers that focus only on keeping a generation of younger workers happy are ignoring the fact that an increasing proportion of the UK working population is getting older. The latest Government figures reveal that there are now more people aged 50 to 74 in work than ever before. According to Labour Force Survey statistics there are now 9.4 million people in work aged 50 to 74, with 3.7 million more in this age bracket than there were 20 years ago. The figures also show the unemployment rate for people aged over 50 has dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest level since 2009, and there are over 1.1 million people working beyond age 65. Legislation to end the retirement age and allow more flexible contracts, have, argues the Government contributed to a more positive attitude towards older workers. However, according to the Centre for Ageing Better, many over 50s are still being forced out of work or offered fewer working hours than they’d requested.
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.