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UK stranded over councils

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. UK stranded over councilsOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Ireland has withdrawn its opposition to the principle of consultative workscouncils for all European companies, leaving the UK isolated. The Irish government has informally told the British government of itsdecision, Personnel Today has learned. At one time the potential blockingminority comprised Germany, Denmark, Ireland and the UK. No single country canveto the law. Attention will turn now to the detail, which proposes that all private firms– probably above a threshold of 50 staff – will have to consult their workforceover significant changes such as mergers and redundancies. Legislative details will include the level of sanctions facing firms thatfail to comply. The European Parliament, which has to give its approval to new laws underthe Amsterdam Treaty, will push for tough sanctions. last_img read more

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EOC calls for part-time rights for parents

first_imgThe Equal Opportunities Commission is claiming that two sex discriminationcases last week demonstrate the need for the Work and Parents Taskforce to helpparents work flexibly. A former receptionist at Lex Retail Group settled her case for sexdiscrimination and unfair dismissal for £8,000 after it refused to allow her towork part-time following maternity leave. Also a secretary at accountancy firm Hacker Young settled her claim for£5,000. While on maternity leave her part-time post was filled on a full-timebasis and she claimed she wasn’t offered a suitable alternative. Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said, “If parents had a right to havetheir request to work part- time considered seriously then an employer whoturned down such a request would have to be absolutely sure they had a realjustification for doing so. “The Work and Parents Taskforce needs to find ways of ensuring parentsdo benefit from more flexibility at work.” EOC calls for part-time rights for parentsOn 31 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Let’s talk business and prove HR is fit for the top

first_imgIsn’t it boring to have to make the case over and over for HR on the board?The latest research from Andersen Human Capital (News, p1) shows that the FTSE100 companies with HR directors on the board are twice as profitable as thosewithout. Of course they are. We should thank Andersen for taking the trouble,but isn’t it about time boardrooms accepted this as a given? It all boils down to whether chief executives see HR as a backroom servicerunning boring but mandatory HR transactions or whether they see the capabilityof the company’s people as an important strategic business issue. Our special report shows that organisations are developing a range of newdirector-level roles to make sure they deal with their human capitalstrategically. Put simply, a lot of CEOs are waking up to the fact that if theydon’t take human capital seriously they will see a lot of their best peoplewalk out of the door and head straight for a competitor. We may even see humancapital find its way into company reports as a criterion of shareholder value,and the people director given as much boardroom space as the analyst. This is good news, except for one thing – too often boards are notrecruiting from among the ranks of the HR profession for these new roles. Thisis wrong. There are plenty of talented and ambitious people in HR who are up tothe job but they need to get crucial business experience as early in theircareers as possible. In the week of the CIPD annual conference, it is a good time to demand thatthe leaders of the HR profession – including the CIPD itself – seize theinitiative. This could be the moment the profession has been waiting for, solet’s not waste it. Previous Article Next Article Let’s talk business and prove HR is fit for the topOn 23 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Selling to the sceptics

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Selling to the scepticsOn 1 Mar 2003 in Personnel Today Are Britain’s HR managers ready to implement the new right to requestflexible working? Compiled by Phil BoucherLaurence Collins, general manager, lifeworks, CentrefileFlexible working is the latest piece of employment legislation to loomominously over the heads of UK employers. From 6 April, employers will have astatutory responsibility to consider requests from employees who want to maketheir employment more flexible. Principally, this will involve varying theemployee’s hours or place of work so that they are better able to care for achild under the age of six or a disabled child under 18. In some companies, this may precipitate a cry of ‘that’s unreasonable!’ tobounce around the walls of the boardroom. Particularly if the board believesthe firm’s competitive edge will be undermined by the changes this brings toworking practices. Not for the first time, HR will find itself in the unenviable position ofhaving to champion a cause unlikely to be welcomed with open arms by anyoneother than its target audience – parents. Indeed, it may well cause envy andresentment among the majority who are not eligible. But despite the hauntingfamiliarity of having to sell a people issue to a sceptical management, HRseems to have no option but to pick up the gauntlet if it wishes to becompliant. To succeed, HR must focus on communicating with line management. Let themknow that new legislation is on its way. Inform them it is only a right torequest, rather than a right to be given, a flexible working arrangement. And,that if it is used effectively, the new law could have a positive impact onorganisational performance. HR professionals will also have to equip managers with the skills, systemsand processes needed to evaluate workers’ requests. Too many firms currentlytackle flexible working requests on an hoc basis, usually as a result of the”I’m thinking of leaving unless…” conversation. Obviously, this addslittle from a strategic perspective. Therefore, the real HR challenge is to develop a flexible working strategythat brings employees to a state of compliance and adds to a company’scompetitiveness. And given the increasing demand from the workforce for greaterflexibility and work-life balance, HR should seize this as a golden opportunityto challenge dated perceptions around work design and working patterns. The key to making this transition is to create desirable flexible workingoptions, and introduce a robust, business-oriented process that provides aframework for considering requests in a fair manner. But all this comes with ahealth warning: if line managers don’t have the competence to manage a flexibleworking system, the boardroom fears of a negative impact will be realised.GeraldDawson, principal personnel consultant, RebusHRAswith all new legislation, HR’s first job is to ensure it fully understands thecontent and the new requirements it will place on the employer and employees.For HR staff in organisations that have already adopted family-friendlyinitiatives, the implications may be minimal and restricted to some fine-tuningof existing policies and procedures. Those that aren’t should sit down andthrash out some new policies and procedures. Butbefore these are compiled, it is essential that HR fully understands thebenefits flexible working can bring. It will then have to think about how itcan sell these benefits to senior management, who will understandably want toretain their current working practices. Similarly, employees need to understandthere is no legal entitlement to have their request automatically agreed.RoyBarton, director, RightCouttsThisis an ideal time for employers to consider the wider aspects of work-lifebalance, the needs of employees and the positive enhancements that can beobtained by embedding this within company culture. Thereare a growing number of employees with care responsibilities, and a greaterproportion of working women. And over recent years, there has also been amarked change in attitude away from total dedication to the workplace. Recentsurveys have shown that many employees would prefer to have more work-lifebalance than a salary increase.Thislegislation provides an opportunity for employers to bring bottom line benefitsto a firm through a creative set of flexible policies. Work carried out byRightCoutts with various private and public sector organisations has shown thatthis brings dramatic improvements in retention, absence levels and morale.ShirleyBorrett, HR consultant, TPS ConsultingHRcould find itself in the front line of dealing with disgruntled employees oncethis legislation takes effect. Those with older children, people with elderlyparents or other caring responsibilities, or those who just have otherinterests they would like to fit into their lives, may feel resentment thattheir employer won’t consider flexible working for them too.Ifa good work-life balance is beneficial to businesses as well as employees, andgovernment funding of the DTI WLB Challenge Fund seems to indicate that itthinks it is, why would an organisation restrict flexible working to justparents of young children? Aflexible working scheme open to all, and based on the construction of abusiness case, is likely to lead to better recruitment and retention of valuedemployees. It will also reduce discontent among non-parents.CarolineWaters, director of people networks, BTThelegislation will put employers under a duty to consider requests for flexibleworking – including alternative working patterns, term-time working orannualised hours. It may also include requests to work from home.BT’sexisting policy already provides a range of flexible working solutions for itsstaff and at best, the new legislation simply formalises these arrangements. BThas embraced flexibility as a real means of enhancing the bottom line and canprove it works – its 6,000-plus home workers have sustained an averageproductivity increase of 20 per cent while saving BT £45m a year in real estateand business efficiency savings. Thishas been possible by the creation of an agile and inclusive business culturethat promotes flexibility to everyone on business rationale, rather thanindividual status.last_img read more

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HSE launches occupational asthma website

first_imgA website with advice on how to reduce occupational asthma has been launchedby the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The site is aimed at employers, safety representatives and healthprofessionals and is part of the HSE’s campaign to reduce occupational asthmaby 30 per cent by 2010. Information on the site includes the main causes of occupational asthma,what it is like to get the disease, what employers have to do to protect theiremployees and what the HSE and others are doing to tackle the problem. There is also access to video clips, case studies, and plans of action onoccupational asthma, agreed by the HSE’s asthma project board and advisorycommittee on toxic substances, which can be downloaded, as well as access toguidance on the main causes of the disease. Occupational asthma is the most frequently diagnosed respiratory disease inthe UK, with between 1,500 and 3,000 people developing it every year. Some sufferers never work again, while others have to change jobs to avoidexposure to the substance that caused the asthma. HSE launches occupational asthma websiteOn 1 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

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Logistics giant delivers skills on a global scale

first_imgLogistics giant delivers skills on a global scaleOn 1 May 2003 in Personnel Today Deutsche Post World Net (DPWN), a world leader in logistics services, isaiming to use e-learning to train a mammoth 320,000 employees worldwide. The organisation, which is the parent company of DHL, Deutsche Post, Danzasand Postbank, has launched the first phase of a multi-phase e-learninginitiative with SkillSoft, which will provide web-based courseware via itse-learning platform SkillPort, as well as worldwide consulting. DPWN, which has headquarters in Bonn, Germany, offers global mail, expressdelivery and logistics services, as well as a range of e-business solutions andfinancial services. One of the business drivers for the e-learning initiative was therequirement to train more than 1,000 DPWN project managers to achieve theProject Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP)certification. SkillSoft’s courses are aligned with the Institute’s Project Management Bodyof Knowledge (PMBOKO). The project management training was launched inFebruary, along with courses covering a range of IT skills. “We view e-learning as a corporate imperative and value driver of ourbusiness,” said Joerg Staff, director of HRM at DPWN. “It is the mostefficient way of offering high-quality, consistent training to employeesthroughout the world – a necessary factor for consistent business processes.Because SkillSoft courseware is available in multiple languages, our employeesin Germany or France will get the same training as those in the US. And we canincrease the amount of training made available while decreasing overallcosts.” Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

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Cutting the cost of relocation

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. HR is under increasing pressure to get a grip on itsexpatriate relocation costs. Scott Beagrie discovers some expert tips on how toreign in the budgetIf you are employed by a multinational company, then you’re probablyfamiliar with the workplace sans frontieres, where expatriate management is anessential part of your job. You will also be highly aware of the immense costsinvolved. An international assignment will typically cost two to three timesmore than an employee’s annual salary. With nearly every economy in the world running at a snail’s pace, thepressure is on HR departments to control relocation costs. In a recent surveyby relocation services provider Cendant Mobility, 63 per cent of its clientssaid cost containment or reduction was their biggest relocation challenge for2003, while a further 16 per cent cited more accurate budgeting. Assuming that HR has asked the right questions before sending someone off toKuala Lumpur or Hong Kong to carry out an assignment in the first place, hereare some key areas of consideration when looking to manage internationalrelocation costs. Policy review Conducting a thorough review of current policy is as good a place to startas any. If communicated as a new strategy designed to meet the demands of atougher economic climate, a well-thought out policy revision will feel lesslike a cost-controlling exercise. “The key is getting the policy right. If you do that, the rest of itshould scroll through,” says Ian Mann, managing director of HR consultancyECA International. “And that means you need to have a very good idea ofall the components that go into your policy.” Sue Bury, client relationship manager at staff relocation specialistsCountrywide Mobility, also highlights the importance of tight budgetarycontrol. “We find problems with companies not fitting one and with noparameters an employee can go off and spend loads of money,” she says. Begin by benchmarking your policy against competitors, as it will help youidentify how much fat there is in your own. “By benchmarking across theindustry, you can make sure you have the latest trends and ensure you areproviding the most efficient policy for the assignee,” says Peter Holland,managing director of recently set up Expatriate Management Services (EMS). Once you’ve carried out the review and analysed the results of thebenchmarking exercise, home in on the detail. Policy is a vast and highlycomplex area, and is impossible to cover comprehensively here, but thefollowing are some suggestions made by the relocation experts interviewed forthis article. A popular route for companies to take, especially within Europe, is thereduction or even elimination of foreign-service premiums. There has also beena shift away from specific reimbursement to ex-pat employees of cost of livingdifferentials in favour of a lump sum payment. In Europe, many companiesrecognise that staff don’t have to buy the same goods or services as at home,and instead adapt their shopping to what is available in local markets. Thecost of living differentials are sometimes so small that it doesn’t justify thecost of the administration. One alternative to offering a full menu of services and meeting all thecosts of an ex-pat employee is to donate a lump sum of cash to the worker, andlet them invest it in what is key to them. The downside of this ownership isthat they may choose to spend it on something other than the essential servicesit was intended for. If there are ex gratia payments that must be made, such as assignmentincentives or an aggravation allowance, make sure they are paid in one hit tominimise administration costs. As Bob Sperl, senior international consultant atHR consultancy Watson Wyatt, points out: “If you only ask the individualto relocate or move once, then it is reasonable to only pay them once.” A more radical and hard-headed business approach would be to seriously questionwhether a worker is ever likely to repatriate. An individual might start athree or five-year assignment which is then continually extended; meanwhile,the company is still paying into their UK pension plan, even though theemployee has no intention of returning. “If the individual isn’t realistically coming back, let’s find that outupfront and get out of the whole expatriate package from the outset, or atleast only build it in for a 12-month transition period,” says Sperl. Recruitment While policy reviews and managing suppliers undoubtedly offer potential forreducing costs, the greatest scope for savings is to move the process upstreamand focus on recruitment. Instead of trying to identify candidates forassignment once a need arises, organisations should assess staff mobility atthe point of recruitment. Scott Sullivan, corporate services manager UK & Ireland for CrownRelocations, suggests that one reason relocation is so costly, is because thefirst (and often, only) people who come to mind for such positions, areinherently expensive senior executives. This stems from the fact that most companies have an insufficient talentpool to draw from, but if you get the recruitment and retention strategy right,it is possible to build a bank of pro-mobile people suitable for suchpositions. Savvy, career-minded staff, for instance, take a much more favourable viewof international and global working, and consider it an essential part of theircareer development. These individuals could then be assigned on aninternational transfer basis on one-way tickets with streamlined benefits,where they quickly merge into their new surrounds with a benefits packagecommensurate with their local peers. “HR can optimise the return on investment of international assignmentsby dedicating their attention to career planning, retention and identifying apool of internationally mobile talent,” says Sullivan. “Not only willthis approach raise HR’s profile with the organisation, particularly atboardroom level, but it will enable HR to have a positive impact on thebusiness’ bottom line.” Accommodation and the benefits of short-term assignments Local rental is another high-cost area, with 69 per cent of UK companiesproviding free housing – specifying a ceiling rent – to expatriates, accordingto an annual survey carried out by ECA International. Only 10 per cent offer nohelp. But although it often represents the biggest proportion of costs in anoverseas assignment package, accommodation is also one of the hardest areas inwhich to reduce costs, and any cuts must be handled sensitively. One of the major arguments against cost-cutting for UK companies stems fromthe state of the domestic property market. Soaring property prices in recentyears mean that both partners often need to work to meet mortgage payments, andoverseas assignments usually lead to the loss of one spouse’s salary. Soanything less than free accommodation isn’t going to appeal. While the UK homecan be rented out to ease the situation, this isn’t always a popularresolution, and the process of attempting to do so can also generate furthercosts. One couple Personnel Today spoke to were forced to spend £7,000 on homeimprovements just to stand a chance of renting their property in a highlycompetitive rental area. Nonetheless, significant savings can be realised by not housing the assigneein expatriate compounds – where rental charges are often at a premium – andusing peer-group housing instead. “Stop looking to put people in highly-priced expatriate ghettos,”says Sperl. “If the assignment warrants it, try to put them in housingthat their peer group would have in the assignment location.” The past three years has seen a steep rise in the number of short-termassignments which, as well as often being a more popular option for theemployee, don’t carry the inherent relocation costs of longer-term postings,and can therefore be used as a method of controlling costs. According to theGlobal Relocation Trends Survey 2002, 50 per cent of companies surveyed saidthey are looking for alternatives to the long-term assignment, and the chiefreason cited was cost effectiveness. Short-term assignments typically range from three to 12 months, with staffless likely to want to uproot their families for such a length of time and lessjustification for doing so. This removes a suite of relocation costs, andoffers scope for reduced local rental costs in temporary or servicedaccommodation. Determine how long staff need to be away as it may be the case,for instance, that the costly senior person you want for the job only needs tobe there for the start-up, or to oversee a particular phase of a project. Setting budgets managing suppliers and outsourcing The relocation process relies on many suppliers, from tax and immigrationlawyers to freight companies and relocation agents. It’s vital to agree setcosts with them from the outset to provide better financial certainty. “Having a clear definition of what those costs are is obviouslycritical,” says Mann at ECA. “If you don’t know how much it costs,how can you save money?” It’s also best to get several quotes, as there can be huge differentialsamong suppliers. Holland at EMS has seen in the region of 1,000 suppliers in the past threeyears, and reports variations of between 40 and 60 per cent in freighthandlers’ rates alone. So it is hardly surprising that David Edwards,international HR adviser at Pair – a company that deals with expatriate issueson behalf of industrial group, Atlas Copco – routinely demands that expatriatestaff get three quotes for any service. Most HR departments have long been keen outsourcers, but you might not haveconsidered it for relocation. Specialist companies offer integrated servicesremoving the administration burden and will take on the practicalities of theprocess. And because of their buying power, outsourcing organisations can oftennegotiate better rates from suppliers. “The greatest cost savings for HR professionals managing corporatemobility projects can be achieved by outsourcing the administration of projectsand redirecting their valuable expertise towards human capital planning andstrategy implementation,” says Crown Relocation’s Sullivan. “As the market for outsourcing mobility management continues to grow,perhaps the most important advice for HR professionals is to work towards theearly identification of individuals who want to relocate overseas, and thecreation of a structure and system to identify and keep in touch with theseemployees to ensure a successful mobility strategy.” Cutting the cost of relocationOn 18 Nov 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Scheme to boost strategic HR in the public sector

first_img Comments are closed. Scheme to boost strategic HR in the public sectorOn 13 Jan 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. The Employers’ Organisation for local government (EO) has launched a pilotproject to help HR managers in the public sector to take on a more strategicrole. The EO hopes its new programme, LEAP, will move HR away from its traditionalimage of ‘people who write policies and procedures’ by linking peoplemanagement to the council agenda. The scheme will be piloted from February to July, using 12 participants fromcouncils in the East of England and a further 12 from the North West. LEAP involves eight hours of confidential one-to-one sessions and groupworkshops. Tracey Connage, assistant director of best practice at the EO, said it wastime HR in local authorities raised its game. “HR managers need the credibility and skills to lead as well as supportthe people management interventions that will result in improved services tothe community,” she said. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

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Skills initiatives are missing the mark

first_imgThere is a gap between training spend and result according to the recentlypublished National Employers Skills Survey (NESS) 2003. The findings of the survey – commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council(LSC) – paint a gloomy picture of the state of skills and training in England.Despite employers spending more than £4.5bn on training and an estimated extra£10bn in terms of staff time, only around half of employees are benefiting, itis claimed. More than a fifth of employers reported skills gaps in their workforce,which were adversely affecting their business. Yet only 39 per cent had atraining plan and less than a third (31 per cent) had a training budget inplace. A massive 72,000 interviews were carried out between April and June lastyear for the survey – the largest of its kind. It included the smallest firms(employing up to five staff) right up to major organisations, in 27 sectorsacross England. “The biggest surprise was finding that 2.4 million employees wereconsidered by their employers not to be fully proficient in their jobs,”said Stephen Gardner, director of skills and workforce development at LSC. “Skills gaps between applicants and job vacancies are consistent withwhat we have seen in the past. The sectors where the shortages were identifiedwere as expected, but there are huge variations across the board,” hesaid. While 43 per cent of employees lacked practical and technical skills, thehigh instance of ‘soft skills’ deficiencies was unexpected. Where staff werejudged by their employer not to be up to the job, 61 per cent were seen to lackcommunication skills, 55 per cent customer handling skills and 52 per cent wereshort on teamworking skills. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) sees the survey – conductedbefore the launch of the Skills Strategy last year – as supporting thedirection of the Government and the LSC. DfES spokesman, Philip Treloar, said: “We now have the funds to maketraining available to the workforce and the more employers we can get involvedin funded learning the better.” By Elaine EsseryThis story was taken from the latest issue if Training Magazine, out on 2March.  Subscribe at Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Skills initiatives are missing the markOn 24 Feb 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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HR Hartley

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. HR HartleyOn 25 May 2004 in Personnel Today Why is the tube cutting back on trainingA while back I attended a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Developmentgathering in London, debating how to prove a return on investment (ROI) intraining to an organisation. I don’t know if anyone from London Underground was there. If they weren’t,they should have been, for they could have shed some light on why they aresupposedly failing to provide adequate staff training on how to deal with aterrorist attack on London. It was brought to my attention by a recent Panorama programme that LondonUnderground staff have received no training on this issue whatsoever. Workersinterviewed by the programme said they’d had a few tips handed around on asheet of paper. But apart from that, there’s been zilch – no simulation of whatthe situation would be like, or information on who would call who and on what(walkie talkies and mobile phones don’t work in tunnels, as you may well havenoticed), or how to deal with the injured and trapped, and what to seal offwhere. As one worker put it: “We’re in the front line in such an eventbecause we’ll be there before any other services, yet we wouldn’t have a cluewhat to do.” Panorama presented a fictional scenario and a highly believable recipe fordisaster. It ‘exploded’ four bombs in different locations across theUnderground network, and then ‘crashed’ a tanker filled with chlorine close tothe City. A crisis panel made up of a former Met Police chief, an intelligenceofficer and a politician, among others, then had to orchestrate dealing withthe aftermath. It failed dismally, severely hampered by under-resourced andunprepared key services, traffic jams and poor communications between disparategroups such as the Territorial Army. If the London Underground has held back on training staff to deal with whathas now become a likely event because it cannot justify ROI, then the world hasgone quite mad. Hartley is an HR director at large Comments are closed. last_img read more

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