Legislation and regulation
October 31, 2013
Flexible working practices don’t necessarily equate to working fewer hours. In fact, people are working increasingly longer hours as flexible working patterns consign the traditional 9-5 to history. A third of Britons are now working more than 10 hours a day, with a short or no break and are bringing work life into the home by responding to work emails, texts and calls in the evening. Research conducted by YouGov for business communications systems firm, RingCentral found that more than half (55%) surveyed now work more than 40 hours a week. As working patterns change, companies are seeing the importance of managing a geographically dispersed workforce (68%), and also believe that providing employees with the ability to work flexibly (78%) or from home (60%) are important for employee productivity levels. more…
October 30, 2013
There has been an 11 per cent drop in major injuries at work compared to 2011/12, according to the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics – though construction remains one of the most dangerous sectors. Meanwhile, figures compiled by health and safety expert ELAS shows the HSE has fined UK firms more than £5.5 million for health and safety failings under its ‘Fees for Intervention’ scheme (FFI) since its launch one year ago. Under the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, companies that break health and safety laws are liable for fines to cover HSE related costs, including call-outs, inspections, investigations, and taking enforcement action. Businesses were fined a total of £5,532,565 for such breaches by the watchdog since October 2012. These can range from slips, trips and falls, right down to not providing enough toilets or washing facilities. more…
October 30, 2013
When it comes to the adoption of flexible working, law firms have proved to be one of the more intransigent sectors in the UK. But there are signs of change with news that more firms in Scotland are embracing new working practices. A survey of 3,400 solicitors carried out by the Law Society of Scotland found an increasing number were making use of flexible working. The research shows that while the majority of respondents (77 percent) continue to work full time, two thirds are now allowed to work away from their main place of work although take-up remains sluggish with only a quarter doing so at least once a week. In marked contrast to other professions, around two thirds of respondents did not access emails and work files while away from the office.
October 25, 2013
Are we dangerously unaware of or perhaps even becoming dismissive about the nature and extent of sexual harassment in the workplace today? A recent survey, commissioned by a firm of solicitors, has thrown up some statistics which point to significant levels of harassment being experienced by both men and women at work. In the poll of 1,579 working people 60 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men reported that they had experienced “inappropriate” behaviour with much of it classed as persistent, degrading and embarrassing. The behaviour that most people complained about involved some degree of unwanted physical contact but also included colleagues watching pornography in the workplace.
October 22, 2013
Following the extensive enforcement action it took against construction sites in March, the latest Health and Safety Executive ‘swoop’ on refurbishment projects in September found that more than 42 percent of them failed the subsequent inspection. During the month, HSE inspectors paid unannounced visits to 2,607 construction sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place and reported that 1,100 of them failed the safety checks. On 644 of the sites, practices were deemed so poor that enforcement action was taken to protect workers. More seriously, 539 prohibition notices were served to put an immediate end to dangerous activities and inspectors issued 414 improvement notices requiring standards to improve.
October 16, 2013
A Government-appointed taskforce, which comprises six leading business figures, including M&S Chief Executive Marc Bolland, and Kingfisher CEO Ian Cheshire has presented the Cabinet with 30 ways of cutting back EU regulations that it says are holding back European businesses. According to the report, ‘Cut EU red tape’, the EU should promote enterprise and boost growth by sweeping away “poorly understood and burdensome rules and preventing similarly pointless legislation in the future”. The proposals, which followed a consultation with 100 businesses across Europe, says that cutting unnecessary and time-consuming health and safety regulations could save EU businesses around €2.7 billion, while reforming employment law would free up firms to create more jobs. more…
October 9, 2013
Ask anyone under twenty, “what is a VDU?” and they’ll probably think you’re referring to a “social” disease. Yet, despite the fact that tablet technology is in the ascent, the workplace procedure that is still used to help safeguard office workers from developing back, neck or other muscular skeletal problems is the workstation audit, as recommended in the HSE’s Working with VDUs guidance. Most under 25s would prefer to slump comfortably over a BYOD anyway, and as a result of these less than ergonomic habits , a massive 84 per cent of 18-24 year olds have admitted to suffering some incidence of back pain in the last 12 months, according to new research. more…
October 7, 2013
Female representation on the UK’s top companies’ boards continues to increase according to new figures published today by the Professional Boards Forum (PBF). The statistics show that 19 per cent of directors are now female (up from 17.4% in May) and 24 per cent of board appointments since 1 March 2013 have been women. To meet the target of 25 per cent of board positions being held by women by 2015, as set out in the original report by Lord Davies published in February 2011, FTSE100 companies need to appoint 66 more female directors in the next two years. The news has been welcomed by business leaders and politicians who have resisted efforts by the EU to impose mandatory female quotas. more…
September 30, 2013
Vermont became the first U.S. state to enact a law requiring employers to consider workers’ requests for a flexible schedule without fear of retaliation. The law, signed by the governor in May, includes a statutory process which requires “good faith” discussions relative to the employee’s needs and the company’s business operations. Despite Vermont’s efforts to make the workplace more accommodating, the United States still lags behind Europe when it comes to flexible work schedules and accommodating family life issues. For example, Vermont is already a decade behind the United Kingdom which passed similar legislation in 2003. The reasons for this are not cut-and-dried either.
September 24, 2013
Equal rights legislation is largely seen as the best means of ensuring a more diverse workforce. However, when it comes to reaching the higher echelons of corporate life, opinion is divided on whether imposing mandatory quotas could do more harm than good in promoting gender equality. 2013 saw the highest change recorded to date in the average number of women on the boards of large EU corporations – due in part to the introduction of mandatory quotas. Although the third edition of “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in the Boardroom,” from global law firm Paul Hastings LLP, found strong consensus in many countries to support women candidates, the debate over the best approach to increase representation continues. more…
September 18, 2013
Building rapport with a potential client is an important part of the procurement process, but how far do you go? According to new research, some service providers have resorted to desperate measures to bag new business, including hiring the client’s daughter; bringing in actors and equipment to make their organisation seem larger than it is and even helping the prospect write the Request for Proposal to ensure that it matched the services they could deliver. The reason, according to findings unveiled today by blur Group is that despite the majority of decision makers believing there are better service providers available than their existing network, the vast majority (89%) were still likely to approach their existing service providers when a new project arose. more…
September 11, 2013
The number of people in full-time work has increased by 80,000 over the last three months according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics. Employment growth was accompanied by a 24,000 fall in unemployment between May and July meaning the rate of unemployment in the UK this quarter dropped to 7.7 per cent from 7.8 per cent in the previous three months. However the figures also showed the number of people in part-time work has risen to 1.45 million, the highest since records began in 1992 and double the number of five years ago, which may put more pressure on the government to address the continued controversy over zero hours working. To download the latest ONS labour market statistics click here.
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