February 21, 2017
Leaders would have and even greater incentive to improve health and safety if their performance was more transparent and executive pay and bonuses were linked to it, suggests the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). This is one of nine summary recommendations made by IOSH in its response to the UK Government’s Corporate Governance Reform Green Paper proposals, which follow public concern about serious failures, such as those at Sports Direct. IOSH agrees with the Prime Minister’s views, expressed in her foreword to the green paper published last November, where she said: “…big business must earn and keep the trust and confidence of their customers, employees and the wider public”. The suggestions IOSH makes contribute constructively to those aims.
Ensuring that executive pay is properly aligned to long term performance, giving greater voice to employees and consumers in the boardroom, and raising the bar for governance standards in the largest privately held companies are all among areas for reform that this green paper sets out.
Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at IOSH, said: “IOSH believes strong leadership, good governance and meaningful corporate reporting are fundamental for helping to ensure safe, healthy and sustainable working environments across all sectors.
“Reforming corporate governance and supporting companies to make better decisions includes getting occupational safety and health right for every business.
“Among the ideas our experienced members have recommended to the government are provisions for increasing stakeholder engagement around OSH issues, improving reporting and governance requirements for large privately held companies and developing a new bespoke ‘Corporate Governance Code’ by authoritative independent experts especially for these private companies.”
IOSH also proposes that a non-executive director should be designated responsible for ensuring that a company’s employees have a voice on health and safety issues. It advocates the introduction of explicit directors’ duties for OSH and greater provision of OSH training for directors, remuneration committee members and institutional or retail investors.
The Institution also recommends lowering the turnover threshold for anti-slavery disclosures, and extending these requirements to public sector organisations, together with improved transparency and use of standardised OSH reporting metrics.
IOSH made the following nine recommendations to help reform corporate governance and deliver wider benefits:
- Linking executive pay and bonuses to OSH performance and making bonus-targets more visible and better designed to encourage positive leadership behaviours
- Directors (and their equivalents), remuneration committees and institutional / retail investors receiving adequate OSH training
- Strengthening the UK Corporate Governance Code on stakeholder engagement about occupational safety and health issues
- Designating a non-executive director to ensure the employee-voice is heard on OSH, supported by an advisory panel and stronger reporting requirements on stakeholder engagement on OSH
- Strengthening reporting and governance requirements for large privately-held companies
- Developing a new bespoke ‘Corporate Governance Code’ for large privately-held companies, produced by authoritative, independent experts
- Introducing explicit positive directors’ duties on OSH, together with adequate OSH awareness training for all directors and equivalents
- Lowering the turnover threshold for anti-slavery disclosures, so that more companies are required to provide them and extending the requirement to public sector organisations
- Requiring those employing 250 or more employees to publicly report on OSH performance and the use of standardised OSH performance metrics
Each one of these, in addition to IOSH responses to the consultation questions, is explained in more detail on the IOSH website here.