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HR Zone Any Answers #14 – Changing job descriptions, bonus schemes, aptitude tests, confidentiality and misconduct…


HR ZONE Any Answers Digest – Issue 14
Tuesday 20 August 2002

********** THIS WEEK’S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK’S TOPICS **********
Wealth creation bonuses… changes in job description… bonus
schemes… confidentiality and misconduct… aptitude tests…
payments for overnight stays…
********** THIS WEEK’S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK’S TOPICS **********

This is the last HR Zone Any Answers Digest in its current form.
In a fortnight the Digest will merge with the weekly HR Briefing,
giving you more frequent updates on HR problems and solutions,
and cutting down on the number of email newswires you will
receive. We hope you continue to find this useful. Thanks to all
community members who take part!
Ben Hawes
mailto:[email protected]

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What you asked this fortnight

New questions posted include:

– I’m looking for an appropriate paragraph to insert into an
employment contract to cater for when the (small) business either
‘takes off’ or is sold on so that the individual is appropriately
rewarded. Does anyone have examples of this or able to point me
in the right direction?
Lou Cakebread

– If you are employed by a company, and they change your job
description, how much must the job lawfully change for the
company to request you reapply for your current position?
Richard Keyte

– Could a deliberate and vocal breech of confidential
information be regarded as gross misconduct? For example, if
someone not in the loop for an exchange of information is able to
ascertain that information, and then broadcast the information,
have they crossed the line? I realize the rumour mill is a
powerful machine, but where is the line drawn. Does it depend
entirely on how the information was acquired?
Glen Maxwell

Do you have a question, a problem, or just want to compare notes
on an issue? Have your say now, free of charge at

Featured question: Bonus schemes

Q – We are presently looking at implementing a bonus scheme that
will be easy to administer and understand. Whilst also being
fair!! Impossible dream, please help if you can.
Martin O’Neill

Edited responses appear, to read responses in full, go to


A – Presumably you are introducing a scheme in order to improve
performance (or else why bother?). The problem is it won’t do
that. It will focus people on ‘playing the bonus game’ and
invariably result in worse performance for the customer. In order
to stop the game playing or cheating you will need to design ever
more complex rules and checks which will tie up resources and
make people even more focused on how to beat the system. And
since so much of an employee’s performance is affected by system
factors outside their direct control the scheme can never hope to
be fair. End result will be poorer performance for the customer,
costs for you and creation of the wrong culture among employees.
My suggestion is focus on the problem that leads you to think
that a bonus scheme is needed and sort that system problem. I
hope that doesn’t sound critical – I just hate the damage that
bonus schemes do.
Ron Skea


A – The balance between simplicity and fairness is not easy to
find, especially when the additional earnings will form more than
25 per cent of the basic earnings, and much depends upon the aim of
the scheme.
John Pope

To see all the responses to this question in full, go to:

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Any Answers Answered:
This fortnight, new responses have been added to these queries:

Q – Does anyone know where I can acquire some suitability /
aptitude type tests for reception skills. These need to be fairly
easy to use as there is no-one qualified to undertake specific
aptitude testing.
Lesley Cairns

Edited responses appear, to read responses in full, go to


A – The psychometric tests that I’ve used in this context would
focus on the paper-shuffling/data-management aspects of reception
work – and are great at measuring these sorts of skills. They
would need to be administered/interpreted by a suitably qualified
person – but this oughtn’t be a massive investment if you
outsourced this bit alone.
If you’re more interested in the interpersonal aspects of the job
you could either interview the person with specific behavioural
questions to find out what they’ve done in similar situations in
the past, or simulate the job itself through some 1:1 role-play.
Conall Platts


A – Many of the agencies and companies use Qwiz tests for
reception work.
Iain Young


A – Try Saville and Holdsworth Ltd (SHL). They do various types
of testing.
Gwen Turpin

To read responses in full, go to:


Q – Do other companies pay an incentive to staff when sending
them on UK assignments, given that they will be away from home
from Monday to Friday? These incentives would be in addition to
expense limits and could be by way of salary uplift, end of
project bonus or enhanced allowances.
Chris Squire

Edited responses appear, to read responses in full, go to


A – We pay no incentives and have 70% of our people working on
client-sites around the UK. We do, however, pay a taxable
allowance of 15 pounds per night away (after 4 qualifying nights
and provided you spend at least 3 nights away in subsequent
weeks) to cover incidental expenses which might be incurred
because the individual is away from home, ie for things like
additional childcare costs, dog sitting, cat feeding, etc.

Do you have anything to add? Or do you have a problem or a query
on any HR-related subject? Join in now, at

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Copyright (c) 2002 Sift Group Ltd. All rights reserved.
May be reproduced in any medium for non-commercial purposes as
long as attribution is given.
HR Zone, 100 Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6HZ
Tel:+44 (0)117 915 9600 Fax:+44 (0)117 915 9630 ISSN 1474-2225

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