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Annie Hayes

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A week in HR: News round-up and commentary

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HR weekThis week, Annie Hayes reports on the fallout from the UK’s financial sector, an October hike in the minimum wage, a Lesbian soldier that scooped £400k at tribunal, and the plight of the illegal Lambeth traffic wardens.
 


Whilst it may be ‘ho ho ho’ for Bradford and Bingley staff, saved by a further nationalisation round, those hanging on in the UK’s beleaguered financial services sector face yet another round of cuts before Christmas. According to a report by Bloomberg.com 12,000 jobs will go, a third more than in the same period last year. It’s no surprise that amongst the group is HSBC, which announced last week cuts of 550 in Britain to add to the 8,000 jobs already lost.

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With so many jobs being shed, the timing of Brown’s free nursery place package may be a little shaky. Under the proposals, two-year-olds will receive up to 15 hours of free childcare per week. It will take several years to introduce, according to a report by The Telegraph.

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Yet soaring unemployment and childcare headaches are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to securing a job. According to a poll by interview skills training website www.interviewgold.com over a third of people have sleepless nights before an interview, worrying about the lies they have told on their CV. Amongst the advice on offer is to polish your Thespian skills and treat every interview as a performance, swot up and fine-tune your communication skills.

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Whilst interview interrogations may cause a lack of zzzzzzzzz’s, there’s some good news that will help workers get 40 winks. From Wednesday 1 October, the national minimum wage is set to rocket to £5.73 per hour. According to the Trades Union Congress the hike will benefit one million workers with two-thirds of the beneficiaries being women. It’s the ninth increase since the wage was first introduced in April 1998.

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Despite the ‘fivers-in’, making ends meet is still a concern for millions of workers. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is pushing the government to scrap mandatory retirement age to allow employees to work longer. The campaign highlights Heyday’s concern that employees who wish to work past the state retirement age – for both personal and financial reasons – are being prevented from doing so.

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Lesbian soldier Kerry Fletcher won’t be counting the pennies, however. Fletcher was recently awarded more than £400,000, after winning her case against the Ministry of Defence. According to the Telegraph, a tribunal heard that Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher had her career cut short by the unwanted sexual advances of her senior colleague, who victimised her with text messages and unwanted advances.

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Lambeth traffic wardens have also been in the spotlight lately. Over half of them quit or lost their jobs and for once it’s not the credit crunch at fault. The fallout began as new management began carrying out immigration checks; whilst many staff simply failed to show up for work, several of the 48 brought in passports which turned out to be forgeries. It’s a lesson in failing to prepare, says HR blogger, Jackie Cameron in her blog spot this week. The financial industry may know a thing or too about that.

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And finally … retail giants John Lewis and Keystone Distribution UK, McDonald’s distribution outfit, will be teaming up as part of an innovative job swap scheme. Managers will get a taste of working in a different environment in what Claire Pearson, Keystone’s HR director, has dubbed a "fantastic opportunity". Every manager who completes the scheme will be required to develop a 10-point action plan to improve operations by implementing ideas from the job swap. Warehouse shop floor practices, shift pattern management, communication and employee engagement have all been highlighted as areas for study and improvement.

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