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Annie Hayes

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September news in brief: Remote working offers not taken up

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  • OFT investigates Hays Recruitment
  • Job cheats don’t do it online
  • Disability guidance issued
  • Mobile tracking could wind employers up in the dock
  • Human capital management on summit agenda
  • A quarter of staff aren’t taking a summer holiday
  • Are you an office GOSSIP?
  • DTI launches new redundancy ready reckoner
  • New judicial mediation pilot scheme launched
  • Long working hours linked to high blood pressure
  • Pilot projects to protect vulnerable workers
  • Are your drivers affected by the changes to seatbelt laws?
  • Homophobic graffiti grounds for constructive dismissal
  • New employment surveys launched
  • What’s in a job title?
  • Railway industry sets up pensions commission
  • Is work life balance just a fad?
  • Online help for family-friendly laws
  • Remote working offers not taken up
  • FTSE 100 missing out on strategic applications


    FTSE 100 missing out on strategic applications
    New research reveals that 49 per cent of FTSE 100 companies do not have full online application processes – and 6 per cent do not have a careers page on their website at all.

    Management solution provider Taleo, which carried out the research, argues that this means they are missing out on pre-screening and automated skills-based selection, which could reduce recruitment costs and improve the speed of hiring.

    * * *
    Remote working offers not taken up
    Research by network operator Thus reveals that only 45 per cent of employees are taking advantage of remote working.

    Technology was cited as one of the biggest obstacles to take-up, particularly as some smaller firms ask employees to pay. But those who do work from home praised the flexibility, lack of commuting and quieter working environment.

    * * *
    Online help for family-friendly laws
    Businesslink has launched a new online tool to help firms deal with the changes to family-friendly legislation which come into force on Sunday.

    The changes include extended maternity and adoption leave for parents expecting or adopting a child after April 1, 2007, longer notice periods for return from maternity or adoption leave, and the right for carers to request flexible working.

    For more information go to: www.businesslink.gov.uk

    * * *
    Is work life balance just a fad?
    This year’s 24-7 survey by the Work Life Balance Centre aims to discover if poor work life balance is a business headache – or just the latest fad.

    The annual survey by the Leicestershire-based centre together with Keele and Coventry universities can be found at www.24-7survey.co.uk and will run from Thursday until mid-November.

    Last year’s survey found that tired workers were making a catalogue of mistakes – and half identified better communication between management and staff as the key factor that would improve work life balance.

    * * *
    Railway industry sets up pensions commission
    Employers and unions in the railway industry have got together to set up an independent railway pensions commission.

    Against a background of rising costs of pension provision, the Commission will be asked to consider if any alternative means of long term pension provision might be available that would be fair and affordable for both employees and employers.

    * * *
    What’s in a job title?
    A survey by UK recruitment firm Imprint Search & Selection has found that more than a third of managers have taken a better job title and foregone the pay rise.

    But it’s not just vanity at work – a great job title is seen as a bargaining chip in performance review and job negotiations. However, non-managerial staff would far rather have the pay rise.

    * * *
    New employment surveys launched
    Fancy taking part in some employment policy and practice research? IRS Employment Review has launched two surveys.

    The first is its 17th annual graduate recruitment survey, which covers recruitment practices, starting salaries, work placements, sponsorships and recent legal changes. It can be found at: www.irsemploymentreview.com

    Secondly, there is a survey about organisations’ arrangements for informing and consulting employees, which includes methods and subject matter, representatives, consultation bodies and any recent or planned changes. It can be found at: www.irsemploymentreview.com

    The graduate survey is anonymous, the information and consultation survey is ‘named practice’, which allows for benchmarking of best practice.

    All respondents receive complimentary copies of the results.
    * * *

    Homophobic graffiti grounds for constructive dismissal
    A gay man who complained about homophobic graffiti has won his case for constructive dismissal.

    Chris Martin complained about the offensive nature of the graffiti in the men’s toilets at West Yorkshire-based Parkam Foods, which supplies pre-packaged meats to many of the UK’s supermarkets.

    But although the company had procedures in place to deal with bullying and victimisation, and put a warning notice up about graffiti; bosses did not investigate and the warning notice did not refer to the homophobic nature of the material.

    Pink News reports that a tribunal told Parkam Foods that they had failed to deal with Mr Martin’s complaint properly – compensation will be decided at a later date.
    * * *

    Are your drivers affected by the changes to seatbelt laws?
    New laws covering the wearing of seatbelts come into force on Monday – and company car fleets could be affected.

    The new Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seatbelt) (Amendment) Regulations require any child under the age of 12 or 135cms in height to use a car seat unless the journey is an unforeseen emergency.

    Parents who use their company cars to transport small children on the school run, for example, would therefore be required to fit child seats. The legislation applies to cars, vans and commercial vehicles.
    * * *

    Pilot projects to protect vulnerable workers
    The government has announced it is to launch two pilot projects to help vulnerable workers in low-paid sectors understand their rights.

    Both projects will begin next year and will run for two years. One, to be led by the TUC, takes place in London and the other, to be led by a non-union organisation, in Birmingham.

    The projects will also look at the help given to employers to raise their awareness of employment law obligations and opportunities will be provided for them to feed into the Government’s Employment Law Simplification Review.
    * * *

    Slowdown for pay rises in finance sector
    After a four-year peak, pay rises for those working in the finance sector have slowed, according to Industrial Relations Services.

    Pay rises in 2006 stood at an average of 3.5 per cent, down on last year’s 3.75 per cent. The sector continues to rely heavily on performance-related bonuses.
    * * *

    Long working hours linked to high blood pressure
    Staff working 40 hours a week are 14 per cent more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than their colleagues who work between 11 and 39 hours, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, have found.

    The study, by Dr Haiou Yang and colleagues, used responses from over 24,000 workers to the 2001 California Health Interview Survey. It found that the risks were higher for unskilled and clerical workers. The findings were reported in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.
    * * *

    New judicial mediation pilot scheme launched
    A new judicial mediation pilot scheme has been launched covering London Central, Newcastle and Nottingham.

    The scheme covers claims of sex, race or disability discrimination and is seen as a possible way to enhance alternative dispute resolution. It is particularly aimed at cases where there is an ongoing employment relationship

    Mediation, which can take up to two days, is carried out by a specially trained employment tribunal chairman but if the claim continues to tribunal, the hearing will be in front of a different chairman.

    The pilot scheme is to run for six to 12 months.
    * * *

    DTI launches new redundancy ready reckoner
    The Department of Trade and Industry has launched a new ready reckoner for redundancy payments, which takes into account the changes the Age regulations will bring into force.

    From October 1, the upper age limit for unfair dismissal and redundancy will be removed, together with the lower age limit for redundancy pay.

    The new payments are based on age – the regulations allow for justifiable differences – and are set at:

    • Up to the age of 21 – 0.5 week’s pay for each completed year of service.

    • 22 – 40 years of age – 1 week’s pay for each completed year of service.

    • 41+ years of age – 1.5 weeks’ pay for each completed year of service.

    The ready reckoner can be found at: www.dti.gov.uk

    * * *

    Are you an office GOSSIP?
    Remember the Yuppie and the Dinky? Well, the latest acronym on the office block is the GOSSIP – it stands for Gadget Obsessed, Status Symbol Infatuated Professional.

    According to Office Angels who carried out the research as part of their 20th anniversary celebrations, you can spot a GOSSIP by what he or she carries around – two mobile phones, a blackberry, an ipod, sushi for lunch, a decaff capuccino for meetings and a gym bag for a post office work-out.

    * * *

    OFT investigates Hays Recruitment
    OFT investigates Hays Recruitment

    Hays has confirmed that it is one of the recruitment companies in the construction industry sector being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for alleged price fixing.

    The OFT says it will be unable to confirm whether any laws have been broken until it finishes its investigation.

    In a brief statement Hays confirmed it was visited in June and added: “The OFT investigation relates to a small part of Hays’ Construction & Property business. Hays is co-operating fully with the OFT under the OFT’s leniency programme.”
    * * *

    Job cheats don’t do it online
    Fewer candidates would resort to cheating in an unsupervised online assessment than would try to gain an advantage through a CV or application form, according to a new report by Cubiks HR consultancy.

    Desire to get the job is the key motivation for cheating. Other findings include that many potential candidates are being put off by slow selection procedures.

    The report is available from: www.cubiks.com

    * * *

    Disability guidance issued
    The government has launched a new website to give guidance about portraying disabled people in communications materials.

    Primarily aimed at the media and advertising industries, the site http://www.imagesofdisability.gov.uk may also be useful for anyone wanting to produce recruitment or company brochures.

    The report is available from: www.cubiks.com

    * * *
    Mobile tracking could wind employers up in the dock

    Employers who decide to take advantage of new mobile phone technology that allows them to track their employees are being warned of potential legal hurdles.

    The technology enables employers to check which employee is nearest a customer, that miles driven match up to miles claimed and is useful in cases of emergency.

    But employers tempted to monitor secretly, risk breaching privacy laws. The Data Protection Act also requires any monitoring to be relevant and not excessive.

    * * *
    Human capital management on summit agenda
    The background to and importance of human capital management will be explored in the keynote speech at this year’s InfoBasis Summit, to be given by Professor William Scott-Jackson, director of the Centre for Applied HR Research at Oxford Brookes Business School.

    With as much as 80 per cent of an organisation’s value tied up in its human capital the aim is to show how improving human capital in general, and skills and knowledge in particular, can make a practical difference to the bottom line.

    * * *
    A quarter of staff aren’t taking a summer holiday
    According to the song, ‘we’re all going on a summer holiday’ – but not these days. New research by Croner and YouGov reveals nearly a quarter of staff (23 per cent) are not bothering to take a summer holiday this year.

    Croner is warning that this places business in a difficult position. Staff failing to take their holiday entitlement are potentially placing their organisation at risk as overwork could lead to much more serious health problems and, ironically, enforced time off work.

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    Annie Hayes

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