RICS announces standards to tackle unfair commercial property service charges

RICS announces standards to tackle unfair commercial property service charges

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RICS standards aim to tackle unfair commercial property service charges

New mandatory requirements that will ensure service charges to commercial tenants are transparent, upfront and fair, and that any costs incurred are in accordance with the terms of the occupational leases, have been announced by RICS. The Institute, which has long called for a fairer and more professional approach to property management to help outlaw “rogue” landlords and managing agents says ‘Service charges in commercial property’ will help regulate the activities of landlords and their agents, whilst protecting tenants from having to pay for unscrupulous repair or maintenance costs. It has worked with major property bodies representing owners, occupiers and managing agents – including BPF, BRC, BCO, PMA, CoreNet, REVO, PMA alongside ICAEW and Law Society, the professional bodies for accountants and lawyers – to produce the recommendations that reflect the needs and opinions of landlords and tenants and the specific considerations of different sectors.

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Employers still have huge reservations about permitting more flexible working

Employers still have huge reservations about permitting more flexible working

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Employers still have huge reservations about permitting flexible workingEmployers considering new flexible working options for their employees are concerned about the security and management implications, according to a recent poll, despite the fact that staff now have the legal right to request flexible arrangements. The survey of medium sized businesses, carried out for RSM by YouGov, found that over the next five years, three quarters of respondents were considering introducing flexible terms of employment, allowing workers to work outside 9 to 5 or increasing the use of remote working.

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Employers urged to err on the side of caution when the staff commute counts as work

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Employers urged to err on the side of caution when the staff commute counts as work

A call for employers to pay staff for the time they spend emailing while commuting has opened up the debate on what constitutes working time for employees. Researchers from the University of the West of England who found that commuters used free Wi-Fi provision on their journey to and from work to ‘catch up’ with work emails, have argued this supported the argument that the commute be counted as work. Until now, there has been little research to evaluate the impact free Wi-Fi provision has had in the UK, despite government encouragement for companies to provide access on transport networks. Traditionally, the government has been more concerned about the benefits of free Wi-Fi for business travellers, but the research team believe that the impact on commuters may be more important. When the researchers looked to Scandinavia to see how commuting time could be measured differently, they found that in Norway some commuters are able to count travel time as part of their working day.

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Senior managers unaware of high levels of employee mistrust

Senior managers unaware of high levels of employee mistrust

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High levels of employee mistrust towards senior UK management warns reportThe new corporate governance code that comes into play early next year includes directives on how companies engage with their staff, but it is a voluntary code which will allow businesses to opt out if they wish. Now a new report suggests there is currently is a high level of mistrust towards senior UK managers, with just 16 percent trusting this group, according to the study. This is despite the fact that according to the research, carried out by Virtual College the majority (95 percent) of senior managers in UK businesses believe that their employees trust them. Employees rated their trust in different roles in the following order; co-workers – 57 percent, managers – 45 percent, team members – 42 percent and senior management – 16 percent. Trust in senior management was found to be considerably lower than trust in other positions such as middle management. The sectors that trusted senior management the least included; utilities (3 percent), legal (8 percent) and government services (8.7 percent).

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SMEs more likely to offer flexible working than larger businesses

SMEs more likely to offer flexible working than larger businesses

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SMEs more likely to offer flexible working than larger businesses to reduce absenceMore SMEs than larger businesses offer flexible working as a way of reducing absences, research from industry body Group Risk Development (GRiD), suggests. The research showed that 35 percent of SMEs with up to 249 employees are actively using flexible working strategies to combat absence compared to just 23 percent of organisations with over 250 employees. Drilling down further into the detail, 38 percent of micro businesses with between 1 and 9 employees use flexible working as a means to reduce absence. Flexible working now means a lot more than allowing an employee to work from home when they are feeling under the weather, and following changes in the law in 2014, it is now an option for everyone with at least 26 weeks continuous employment to request it – not just those with children or carer responsibilities. It also includes part-time working, term-time working, job sharing, compressed hours and flexitime. A greater degree of flexibility can increase productivity and reduce burn out, particularly in stressful occupations.

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Employers who do not offer flexible working are the exception rather than rule

Employers who do not offer flexible working are the exception rather than rule

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Employers who do not offer flexible working are the exception rather than ruleMost organisations already offer some sort of flexible working and over half of employees now ask to work flexibly, a new survey from XpertHR research has claimed. One in 12 organisations (8.1 percent) reported that all employees worked flexibly, with employers attributing the rise to a more supportive workplace culture and the impact of recent legal changes. The survey found that more than half (55.9 percent) had seen an increase in flexible working requests over the past two years. Three out of four believed that this was due to changes in workplace culture in recent years, attributable in part to a change in the law in 2014 that extended the right to request flexible working to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service. Flexible working goes across the board, and includes part-time working, variable start and finish times, home-working and other options.

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Is driver behind the widening parental leave gap a lack of rights in the gig economy?

Is driver behind the widening parental leave gap a lack of rights in the gig economy?

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Could the driver behind the widening parental leave gap be the rise of the gig economy?The already low number of fathers claiming paternity leave has fallen for the first time in five years, to 213,500, down 3 percent from 221,000 last year an analysis by law firm EMW has revealed. To help encourage more men to take paternity leave, the Government launched the shared parental leave scheme in 2015. However, take up of the scheme has also been slow, with less than 2 percent of all UK fathers participating. These latest figures suggest that hundreds of thousands of men are not taking up their entitlement to paternity leave. In comparison with low rates of paternity leave, nearly treble the number of mothers (662,700) took maternity leave in 2017-2018, up from 661,000 in 2016/17. More →

Business leaders admit recruitment process could be significantly affected by Brexit

Business leaders admit recruitment process could be significantly affected by Brexit

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Business leaders admit recruitment process could be significantly affected by BrexitA quarter (25 percent) of businesses currently employ staff from the EU but half (50 percent) of business leaders say they would be put off employing someone from the EU after the immigration laws change a new survey has claimed. A quarter (25 percent) are also concerned the recruitment process will become lengthier, and almost a fifth (19 percent) believe it will become more costly. The study by Blacks Solicitors also found business leaders in the UK don’t feel confident in communicating the forthcoming changes to employees’ rights during Brexit. A quarter (23 percent) revealed they feel underprepared, and a further 61 percent say they are worried about leaving the EU. More →

Extending reporting requirements may help close gender pay gap say MPs

Extending reporting requirements may help close gender pay gap say MPs

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Extend reporting requirements to help close gender pay gap say MPs

Employers should be required to publish a narrative and action plan under Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements, the inquiry on executive pay and the gender-pay gap by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee has recommended today. It has found that the requirements to publish data which came into force in April this year represents a ‘small but welcome step towards ensuring that women can make their fullest possible contribution in the workplace and to the economy’, but it calls for the Government to be more ambitious. Detailed statistics should be provided to aid analysis and organisations should explain what they are doing to tackle their gender pay gaps. Under the new rules employers would have to provide some narrative reporting alongside their gender pay statistics, with an action plan setting out how pay gaps are being and will be addressed, including objectives and targets. Subsequent reports would include progress against this action plan, including targets set. More →

MPs say more effort needed to tackle widespread sexual harassment in workplace

MPs say more effort needed to tackle widespread sexual harassment in workplace

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More effort needed to tackle widespread sexual harassment in workplace say MPsSexual harassment in the workplace is widespread and commonplace, with unwanted sexual behaviours such as sexual comments, touching, groping and assault seen as an everyday occurrence and part of the culture in workplaces, and the Government, regulators and employers are failing in their responsibilities to tackle the problem says an influential group of MPs. Employers and regulators have ignored their responsibilities for too long, found the Women and Equalities Committee following a wide-ranging six-month inquiry and often legal protections are not available to workers in practice. The Committee found that despite 40 percent of women and 18 percent of men having experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace there has been a failure to tackle unlawful behaviours, despite the Government’s obligations under international law. The report calls on Government to focus on five priorities to put sexual harassment at the top of the agenda for employers.

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Employers welcome multi-generational workforce but worry about increased risk of conflict

Employers welcome multi-generational workforce but worry about increased risk of conflict

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Employers welcome multi-generational workforce but worry about increased risk of conflictImproved living standards, deflating pension pots and legal protection against age discrimination have all helped to nudge up the retirement age. The result is that for the first time since the Industrial Revolution five generations of employees are now working side by side. According to a new survey, two thirds of organisations (66 per cent) say that an age diverse workforce helped the company to have a more comprehensive skillset and knowledge base and more than seven in ten (71 per cent) felt that a multi-generational workforce brought contrasting views to their organisation. However, in the YouGov survey of middle market businesses commissioned by RSM, four in ten companies (41 per cent) said that a multi-generational workforce also increased the risk of conflict in the workplace. More →

A clearer more enforceable energy efficiency policy is needed for commercial buildings

A clearer more enforceable energy efficiency policy is needed for commercial buildings

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A clearer more enforceable energy efficiency policy is needed for commercial buildingsThere is a critical need for to simplify the regulatory framework designed to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings finds a recent report from the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) Carbon Management & Sustainable Buildings Working Group. It also suggests that Brexit could act as a spur to rethink the right combination of policies to reform enforcement systems. The report, Improving non-domestic energy efficiency after Brexit, one of a series EIC is publishing setting out its members’ views on the impact of Brexit on environmental policy and how policy should evolve after the UK leaves the EU, covers the breadth of energy efficiency policy for non-domestic buildings. As part of its research, EIC surveyed England’s local authorities, who have responsibility for trading standards, finding that out of those that responded (122 out of 149), no local authorities have been issuing fines for failing to display Energy Performance Certificates or Display Energy Certificates.

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