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News in Brief: Businesses bemoan pay hikes

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Businesses bemoan pay hikes
Business groups have hit out at new rises to the minimum wage claiming employers will struggle to cope with the costs and be forced to slash jobs.

Lobbyists were responding to the government’s announcement this week that the adult minimum wage rate will increase from £5.05 to £5.35 an hour in October. The figure represents a 6% hike.

Confirming the increase, trade and industry secretary Alan Johnson added the development rate for 18-21 year olds will rise to £4.45 with teenagers aged 16-17 receiving £3.30 per hour.

Johnson hailed the changes as beneficial to 1.3 million workers, particularly low-paid women.

“It’s right that at a time when our economy is generally strong with the longest ever period of sustained growth and nearly 2.4 million more jobs than 1997, that we continue to help those who get paid the least,” he said.

Business groups however slammed the pay increases claiming employers are not able to absorb such costs and may be forced to lay off workers.

For more on this story see AccountingWEB

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Control and optimism is key to combating stress
A study from the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield has found that individuals who have greater control over when and how they work and are generally optimistic are better equipped to deal with stress.

These are the findings of Dr Peter Totterdell who examined the weekly diaries of 65 portfolio workers (self-employed workers who work for a variety of different employers or clients) over a 26 week period.

It was found that weeks with higher work demands were associated with greater anxiety and depression, weeks involving low job control were associated with greater anxiety, and weeks involving low social support were associated with greater depression.

It was also discovered that the highest levels of strain were experienced by pessimists during weeks of high demand and low control. Optimists on the other hand suffered lower levels of strain in all situations.

Dr Totterdell said, “Those with an optimistic outlook seem to be less adversely affected. Work stress is often treated as something that is fixed, but it actually concerns a range of emotions that fluctuate over time and depend on characteristics of both the person and the job.”

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Workers Fearless in Face of Firing Squad
Just 11% of workers are afraid of being fired. This is according to a poll by OfficeTeam, a recruitment specialist.

Of those that worry about being fired, two per cent think about it every day while nine per cent only worry about it when they are having a bad day.

The poll also reveals that a staggering 89% of those questioned (304 in total) never really worry about being fired because they feel reassured by the fact they are good at what they do and that their bosses could not cope without them.

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Hunt for new Equality Chair commences
The Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) bringing together the work of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is on the look out for a new Chair and up to fourteen Commissioners to lead it.

The new body will have responsibility for equality and human rights and is likely to herald major changes for employment law and in the workplace as well as proposing system changes across Government.

Meg Munn, Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, said: “For the commission to really succeed and serve the people it represents it is vital that applicants for the commissioners jobs come from a variety of backgrounds and have first hand experience of discrimination. I want to get the best people for the job that can use their experiences to ensure that the CEHR makes a real difference to people in communities all over the UK.”

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Statutory Dispute Regulations fail to quash tribunal claims
The number of claims being taken to an Employment Tribunal (ET) has risen to 100,203 in 2005 up from 97,896 in 2004, a rise of 2.3%.

This is despite the introduction of Statutory Dispute Procedures designed to stem the flow of unnecessary court claims.

Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula said:

“The Statutory Disputes Procedures have worked effectively, but what really surprises me is that it was brought in to stop frivolous claims. However, the figure still tops 100,000, and in my experience the number of redundancies last year seemed to have increased.”

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Salary increases not linked to skills
Salary increases in 2006 will not be linked to skill levels, new research claims.

Pay for senior staff is likely to rise at a similar rate to lower level clerical employees, according to Human Resources firm Hewitt Associates.

The survey quizzed 1,000 private and public sector organisations across 15 European countries to compare the salary expectations of Western and European employees.

UK managers are predicted to receive a 3.9% increase, whilst their clerical co-workers come in closely at 3.7%.
Despite this, performance-related pay irrespective of skill level should reach around 3%, a figure higher than last year’s projections.

For more on this story see TrainingZONE

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Doctors say salary isn’t commensurate with skills
Unions claim the skills of UK doctors and nurses are going unrecognised by government, as the Treasury challenges the call to give above-inflation pay rises to medics.

The dispute is also delaying the publication of pay awards for prison officers, top armed forces ranks, senior civil servants and judges.

According to the Financial Times, the objection to this above-inflation salary hike comes from the Treasury, which has calculated that UK doctors and nurses are among the best paid in the world.

The NHS has overspent to record levels this year, projected in January to reach £790m. Doctors’ salaries have increased on average by 30 to 40% since 2003.

For more on this story see TrainingZONE

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Inadequate training hampers change efforts
Poor training and development programmes are affecting the success of organisational change initiatives, new research warns.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), organisations experience major restructuring every three years, yet their training processes are not sufficient to cope.

This is reflected in market feeling, as employers are showing little confidence in the competency of training strategies. Two thirds (67%) say the training and development programmes currently in place are insufficient for major company restructuring.

For more on this story see:
TrainingZONE

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Public sector is largest employer of interim management skills
The public sector hired the most interim managers last year, according to latest research.

One fifth (20%) of Britain’s 7,000 interim managers were employed by government bodies last year, whilst financial services, the second largest employer for such skills, used 13%.

This, however, is a significant drop from the previous year, in which public organisations hired 35% of the market’s interim managers.

The study from interim management consultancy Praxis has also found that this skills group achieved higher salaries than ever before, as the average daily wage rose by almost £100 to £680 in 2005.

The best paying sectors include finance, pharmaceuticals and telecoms, whilst the public sector was amongst those offering the lowest salaries.

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Lack of financial training is business time bomb
The majority of UK business managers have not received any formal, financial training, new research reveals.

Sixty-eight per cent of the 650 managers quizzed said they have never had any formal training, according to e-learning solutions provider Intellexis.

More than three quarters (76%) of organisations in the Midlands and Wales fail to provide training for their managers, and over 60% of businesses based in London or the North of England offered no formal skills instruction.

The failure to formally train managers was most acutely felt among younger leaders, as 70% of those aged between 18 and 29 suffered a lack of skills guidance.

For more on this story see TrainingZONE

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CPD adoption spirals
The use of continuous professional development (CPD) by UK companies has increased, according to new research.

The second annual survey by e-publisher, Echelon Publishing found that 50% of institutions quizzed made this system for monitoring professional skills mandatory, with a growing trend towards this amongst the remaining companies.

Almost 90% of respondents thought that professionals would feel increasing pressure to fulfil the requirements of CPD, improving the UK skills pool.

David Hill of Echelon said: “Comparing year on year results reflects the growing importance attached by professional bodies to maintaining the professional standards of their members.

“It is unlikely to be long before customers demand that professional advice is given only by those who have kept their knowledge and skills up to date.”

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Online support boosts teaching skills
Twice as many teachers and lecturers are being given access to information and advice that should boost the skills of UK education.

The Teacher Support Network has launched an online programme offering confidential email coaching for its 17,000 users.

Chief Executive of the organisation, Patrick Nash emphasised the value of such efficient support for education.

For more on this story see:
TrainingZONE

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