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Annie Hayes

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A week in HR: BT cuts lines with staff

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HR weekBT’s shock announcement that thousands of jobs are to go in a bid to save costs has stirred reaction from the CIPD and pensions outfits. Elsewhere the gender pay gap is reported to be ever widening, and in news from the dock, twin sisters have scooped a multi-million pound payout for sexual and racial harassment.


Telecoms giant BT has announced that as many as 10,000 jobs are to go by the end of March next year in a bid to cut costs. Reported by the BBC, around 4,000 jobs are expected to go in the UK alone. The losses will add to the total jobless count. Last week HRZone.co.uk reported that unemployment has reached an 11-year high of 1.82 million. BT has also reported that it hopes to save £100m in pension contributions each year. As of April 2009 it is expected to make radical changes to its final salary scheme.

Commenting on the news, Damian Stancombe, head of employee benefits at Punter Southall Financial Management, said BT’s decision to cut jobs sets a precedent for other companies to follow their lead. John Philpott, chief economist of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said the move highlights the vulnerability of agency temps and self-employed contract workers in a market downturn but said the reality should not be used to question the merit of the UK’s flexible labour market. For full comment, see the CIPD website.

In his HR blog, Ken McKenzie looks at whether cutting costs is always the right reaction in a downturn: www.changeboard.com

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Further job gloom is reported by St Mungo’s, London’s largest charity for homeless people. In its survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, 29% of people in full or part-time employment in Britain say they are very concerned or fairly concerned about being made redundant or becoming unemployed in the next 12 months. Of the homeless polled, 70% said that losing their job had contributed either directly or indirectly to them becoming homeless.

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Sadly a fair deal can’t even be expected for those in jobs. This is according to a response from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), commenting on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings which shows that the full-time gender pay gap has increased to 17.1% and the part-time gender pay gap to 36.6%. Of the figures, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Today’s shock increase in the gender pay gap makes the case for decisive action more pressing than ever. This is an injustice for both women and men. As redundancies mount, more women may find themselves as the sole or main income earner. It’s more important than ever that they are not underpaid for what they do.”

In his HR blog, Dr Ian Dodds admits that women are massively under-represented in senior management: www.changeboard.com

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Twin sisters, Samira and Hanan Fariad, are two females that aren’t complaining about the pay stakes. The pair agreed to an out-of-court multi-million pound settlement by their former City employer Tradition Securities and Futures, following 200 separate allegations against the bank, claiming they suffered sustained campaigns of sexual harassment and unbearable levels of race and religious discrimination. For the full report see: The Telegraph.

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Also splashing the cash is Train to Gain. Reported by sister site, www.trainingzone.co.uk the Government has kicked off its high-profile campaign designed to promote the benefits of training to businesses, particularly during tougher economic times. The £2.4 million advertising push runs from November 10 for three weeks and will include slots during major TV series such as Coronation Street, The Bill and Emmerdale. John Denham, the secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills, said businesses needed to continue upskilling workers to survive the downturn. “Research shows that companies that don’t train are twice as likely to fail as those that do,” he added. The television advertisement – part of the Learning and Skills Council’s ongoing campaign, ‘Our future. It’s in our hands’ – features a ‘hand ballet’.

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And in further spending news, a new survey of 400 business decision-makers found that 81% admitted to being influenced by awards when buying training/HR services for their business. This fact was reinforced by 76% of respondents agreeing with the statement “awards are important for generating business or improving the value of a brand”. Responding to the survey’s findings, Chris Robinson, managing director of survey sponsor Boost Marketing, said: “I often hear businesses refer to awards as ‘good PR’, but it’s even more important to understand the extent to which they add value from a commercial perspective.” A list of over 300 awards programmes can be found at www.boost-marketing.co.uk/awards.


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Annie Hayes

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