Legislation and regulation
August 4, 2014
We all remember the days, not that long ago, when companies actively discouraged the use of personal technology and social media at work. How quickly things change. Now many firms not only want people to use their own smartphones, they pretend that it was their idea all along by labelling it BYOD. Some even measure their employees’ social engagement and judge them on it. Even those firms who maintain policies to restrict the use of social media may be fighting a losing battle according to new research from Samsung Electronics, which found that British employees are most likely to ignore them. But then again, maybe businesses shouldn’t worry about it because a growing body of research suggests that people who use social media tend to be more collaborative and productive at work.
July 2, 2014
An Enhanced Code of Conduct for executive search firms to support more women appointments to FTSE 350 boards has been announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable. Over 70 firms signed up to the original voluntary code of conduct launched in 2011. In response to the independent Sweeney review in February 2014, the search industry has now developed a new Enhanced Voluntary Code of Conduct, which builds on the terms of the standard voluntary code and is intended to recognise the efforts of search firms working to build the pipeline of FTSE board directors of the future. The Code was drawn up by the search firms themselves working with the Davies Steering Group. It contains 10 new provisions, from launching initiatives to support aspiring women to sharing of best practice and running awareness programmes within their own firms. more…
July 1, 2014
A new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies challenges some of the most commonly held misconceptions about the UK’s older workers, their health, income and status. The Changing Face of Retirement has been produced by the IFS in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council. Over the next ten years, it claims that changes to the pension provision, a rise in the retirement age, improving levels of long term health and the fact that many more people will remain in relationships as the life expectancy of men improves will mean more and more older people will supplement their pension incomes with paid work. The report also suggests that there will be more women between the ages of 65 and 69 in work than men by 2021 but both groups will see significant increases as the proportion of the total population aged over 65 increases by over a fifth.
June 30, 2014
New legislation that encourages flexible working practices comes into force today (30 June). From today, all employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more will have the right to ask if they can work flexibly. This right previously only applied to the parents with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers. To help guide employers through the process, workplace expert Acas has published a new Code of Practice and guidance on the right to request flexible working. The new Code and practical guidance is designed to help employers consider any requests in a reasonable manner and stay within the law. “Many employers recognise that they can retain talented staff by offering a flexible approach to work and a healthy work life balance can help business success and growth, said Acas Chair Brendan Barber. “Our new guide has practical examples to help businesses or employers manage flexible working requests in a reasonable way and avoid any pitfalls. more…
June 10, 2014
Just over a quarter (26 percent) of British employees will ask their employers for flexible working arrangements when the latest changes to legislation come into effect on 30 June 2014, according to a survey by YouGov and Croner. The survey of 2,328 employees also found that over two-thirds (69 percent) of workers have never applied for flexible working, with nearly a quarter of these believing the request would be denied anyway. The research also found that those employees who already enjoy flexible working arrangements identify a range of benefits. 63 percent think that flexi-work creates a better work-life balance, 42 percent believe it boosts staff morale, 28 percent think it reduces sickness and absence, 27 percent claim that it increases productivity.
June 9, 2014
This year’s Queen’s Speech was the last before the 2015 general election and included a relatively light legislative programme of just 11 new bills. Some of the key employment changes being proposed include changes to childcare, the national minimum wage, and zero-hours contracts. But in fact a key development which was not included in the Queen’s Speech, and yet could have the most pronounced effect on employers is the extension of the right to request flexible working. From 30 June 2014, employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment will be able to make a request for flexible working for any reason under the new statutory scheme. The procedure to be followed will be far less prescriptive than that currently in force and will place more onuson the employer to consider the request and any alternatives to the proposed request. more…
June 6, 2014
France has joined the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Denmark in offering a financial incentive for people to cycle to work. The six month scheme will see people paid to take to their bikes as a way of cutting traffic, pollution and fuel consumption as well as boosting people’s health. When announcing the scheme, Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier, said that if the pilot is deemed successful, it will be extended to confirm its outcomes. He hopes that the bike-to-work incentive scheme will boost bike use for commuting by 50 percent from 2.4 percent of all work-home journeys, or about 800 million km, with an average distance of 3.5 km per journey. In Belgium, where a tax-free bike incentive scheme has been in place for more than five years, about 8 percent of all commutes are on bicycles. In the Netherlands, it is about 25 percent, according to Reuters.
June 5, 2014
The UK is introducing new flexible working legislation at the end of this month, but two new surveys highlight a startling lack of awareness of the changes. According to research from Jobsite, more than half of UK firms and three quarters of employees are unaware of the changes and 25 percent of those firms who are aware of the new law hadn’t considered its implications. The second survey, from QualitySolicitors (sic), found an almost identical lack of awareness amongst SMEs, with just under half of the firms unaware of the new rules and just over a quarter admitting to being unprepared for them. The changes mean that from 30 June, all employees who have worked for their employer for at least six months will be entitled to request alternative working patterns.
June 2, 2014
While FIFA works out whether it wants to dig itself in deeper or climb out of its own hole in addressing the World Cup bribery scandal, thoughts in the business world about this Summer’s quadrennial festival of football turn, yet again, to the matter of how to deal with it all. One of the first up with suggestions this time is the UK employment conciliation service agency ACAS which thinks the answer no longer lies in turning a blind eye to what people get up to, but instead working around it. They are urging firms to allow staff to work flexibly during the World Cup so they can watch games with minimal disruption to business. ACAS last month issued new guidance on flexible working in advance of a change in the rights of workers to request flexible working at the end of June, and is now suggesting that flexible working will help to reduce absenteeism and disruption during the tournament in Brazil which begins on June 12.
May 14, 2014
As if it weren’t perilous enough to be sitting on your backside for hours every day while trying to subsist on a diet of coffee and Ginsters’ pasties, new research from Regus UK has highlighted just how many British road warriors routinely work behind the wheel. The poll of 1,800 managers and business owners revealed that around three quarters of them routinely use their mobile phone while driving, both breaking the law and imperilling themselves and other road users in the process. Around two-fifths of respondents admit they have dialled into conference calls while driving and a fifth said they have held important business discussions, when either they or the person with whom they were talking was in apparent control of a ton of speeding hot metal.
May 9, 2014
There has been a growing perception that flexible working practices are now commonplace in the workplace. However a recent report from Working Families, a charity set up to help working parents and carers find a balance between their responsibilities at work and at home, suggests this is a myth. Their report reflects growing concerns based on experiences and queries from their helpline that employers are in fact, becoming more rigid. The report suggests that working parents are coming under increasing pressure to give up their flexible working arrangements. It highlights “a growing number of callers to the helpline reporting the family-friendly working pattern they have had in place for years being changed or withdrawn virtually overnight, with no opportunity for them to express their views”. Ironically, despite the Government’s championing of flexible working it seems the imposition of employment tribunal claim fees could be behind the backlash. more…
April 29, 2014
According to a new report from one of the UK’s leading disability charities, one of the main obstacles for disabled people when it comes to finding and remaining in work is a lack of flexible working opportunities. Nearly half of the 700 respondents to a survey carried out by Scope and published yesterday in a new report called ‘A Million Futures’ claimed that flexible working could have helped them to stay in work. The report claims that last year alone some 220,000 more disabled employees left work than found a new job, many of them because they were not allowed to work in ways that would help them to manage significant life changes related to their disability and work around their treatment and meet other demands of their lives. Only around a third felt they had been offered the flexibility they needed.
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