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Verity Gough

Sift Media

Deputy Editor

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A week in HR: Working parents’ rights and ‘Nap at Work’ week

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NewsFrom a change in immigration law, to salary cuts, snoozing at work and a review of working parents’ rights, Verity Gough reports on a busy week in HR.


April kicks off with the implementation of a number of amendments to the existing employment laws. Firstly, the government is set to introduce the extension of the right to request flexible working for parents of older children, as reported in our employment law update last month.

The changes come at the same time as the release of The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) Working Better report. It outlines the Commission’s 10-year strategy which will result in leave being divided more equally between parents as well as an appeal for higher levels of maternity and paternity pay to increase uptake, particularly among men, lone parents and lower income groups. This has been welcomed by charity Working Families. which has been campaigning for changes to the legislation for a number of years. Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said that the charity strongly supports a move towards more equal leave entitlement between men and women.

“We would like any new system to offer the maximum choice to families about who works and who cares, not just in the first year of life but throughout the stages of a child’s upbringing. It is very important that parental leave, even unpaid, continues to be available to all families to enable them to respond to unforeseen circumstances as their children get older. The risk is that the EHRC’s model may incentivise using up the full parental entitlement in the first year, leaving no options for parental leave later on.”

The concern for many businesses now are the increased costs associated with additional paternity and maternity pay in times of recession, as HRZone.co.uk recently reported.

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A second change set to come in relates to immigration law which will mean that an employer wishing to sponsor a migrant to do a job under Tier 2 (general) will not pass the test unless the job has been both advertised to settled workers in Jobcentre plus; and advertised using one other method permitted by the relevant code of practice.

Commenting exclusively for HRZone.co.uk, Krishna Santra, an associate at law firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin said: “It would be interesting to see what impact these further slight changes to the points-based system are going to have on UK businesses employing individuals outside of the EU.

“Whilst one can appreciate with the current economic climate, the government wants to encourage businesses to hire individuals within the EU, what will happen with those businesses that hire or retain staff from outside of the EU, especially in light of one of the changes namely the raising of qualifications and salaries required under tier 1 (general). This change may prevent a particular employer from employing a non-EU candidate with the essential skill set required, and one that perhaps is not available within the EU.”

Employment law bloggers PHJ Law explore the changes in more detail on their blog.

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Another amendment coming in on 1 April is an increase in holiday entitlement from 24 to 28 days for all full-time employees. However, a recent survey by consultancy Croner and YouGov has found that nearly a quarter of full-time employees said they were entitled to less than 27 days holiday per year, including bank holidays. If this does not increase by 1 April, those employers will fail to meet their legal obligations. More worryingly, 6% of workers admitted that they currently receive less than 24 days.

Gillian Dowling, employment technical consultant at Croner, said: “The real danger for employers is when their staff become more switched on. If they haven’t asked already for the extra holiday, they will do soon.”

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Yet more recession news this week as a global survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) revealed that business leaders could do with some help from their HR departments when it comes to balancing talent retention and cost reduction. The survey of over 1,100 CEOs found that there is a continual struggle to ensure that critical talent is kept and nurtured while the economy continues to eat into training and development budgets. Alice Snell’s Taleo blog has some great links as to what other companies are doing to help retain their talent.

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Meanwhile, a new survey has revealed that over three-quarter of a million job hunters are prepared to take a serious salary cut in order to secure a job. TipTopJob.com found that 40% of jobseekers will drop their pay expectations by over 20% if it means they score a job, with only 17% refusing to take a job unless it bettered or at least matched their current salary. This may be good news for employers who can expect not only more applications, but lower salary expectations.

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For those who are already feeling like they need a holiday, they might be interested to know that we are now officially in ‘National Nap at Work’ week. While this might sound like a good excuse for a skive, Monster.co.uk says that sleep deprivation caused by stress can cause loss of productivity at work as well as cause more serious errors and accidents. A recent article in The Times examines the benefits of having a quick snooze during the day.

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The CIPD has announced the appointment of a new director of HR capability. Stephanie Bird starts at the institute on 1 April, after spending three years at BP as as HR vice president, talent and organisation capability. She has also held senior HR positions at Dell Corporation, KPMG and ICI.

Jackie Orme, CIPD chief executive, said: “We’ll be making some big announcements in the next few months on the work we’ve been doing. Stephanie will be responsible for implementing the changes we have planned, and ensuring we maximise their potential to build the capabilities the profession needs for the future.”

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And finally, as the old argument of social networking sites being permitted at work continues, a study by the people search engine Yasni says that employers need to be prepared to have their friend requests refused by employees concerned they are only interested in keeping tabs.

According to a recent study of 1,203 social networking users, 78% of Brits confess that their social networking pages have something potentially embarrassing on them and 73% of respondents had received a ‘friend request’ from their boss; however, 94% would refuse point blank to accept them.

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Verity Gough

Deputy Editor

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