A railcompany has brokered a pay agreement which is set to be a benchmark for thesector. Great NorthEastern Railway has negotiated a deal with drivers’ union Aslef to give 250drivers a 20 per cent pay rise – equivalent to an annual salary of £33,000 –from April.As part ofthe agreement, pensionable pay for full-service employees will be increased by£6,455 to £27,500 and there will be an additional bonus of £5,500. GNER HRdirector Mike Goodie, one of the pivotal figures in the negotiations, said,“This agreement reduces the possibility of industrial action in the future andimproves industrial relations.”He added,“This pay rise recognises the professional status of our drivers.” Related posts:No related photos. Aslef pay deal to set standardOn 12 Dec 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article
Mencap is replacing its one-day staff induction with an e-learninginitiative that will welcome new recruits and save the charity £200,000 in itsfirst two years. The CD-Rom will replace the organisation’s current one-day induction eventcalled Welcome to Mencap. Julie Casey, training and development manager for the charity, said Mencapdeveloped the initiative to save time and money and to guarantee consistency.The CD-Rom has been devised by e-learning specialist ACT. Casey said staff had to spend a day out of the workplace to attend theoriginal welcome day, and it took up to six months to fit them in due todemand. “It was becoming increasingly more time-consuming and expensive for thecharity to organise full induction days with speakers and delegates. We thoughtthat a CD-Rom that covered the induction would be more practical for our newrecruits who can work through the course at their own pace. “ACT has injected a sensitive tone into our induction material, whilethe design is fresh and innovative, giving it real appeal to the user.” Provided the three-month pilot goes well, the initiative, which is the firstelectronic learning scheme for Mencap’s training and development department, willbe rolled out indefinitely. ACT filmed a Welcome to Mencap day and used the material as the basis forthe CD-Rom, which takes between three and four hours to work through. It is made up of three modules. The first consists of tutorial learningscreens and short video clips. The second features videos of four key speakers,and the third provides information on further training. All the learning is audio accompanied by simple text and graphicalrepresentations. Employees who work directly with people with learning disabilities arerequired to complete the training and correctly fill in the six assessmentquestions at the end of part one. New staff will work through the CD-Rom during work time within two weeks ofjoining Mencap.By Katie Hawkins Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Mencap’s new recruits go online to learn the ropesOn 26 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed.
Mind out for mental healthOn 1 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article A campaign to raise awareness of mental health problems aims to help stopdiscriminationThe Government has launched a campaign to raise awareness among employers ofdiscrimination against workers with mental health problems. The Department of Health’s Mind Out For Mental Health campaign isaccompanied by a document called Working Minds. The research, carried out bythe Industrial Society, is designed to show how people with mental healthproblems face discrimination in the workplace and what employers can do totackle it. Key findings include the fact that while some employers attempt to addressissues surrounding mental health problems for their staff, many more do not.Discrimination appears to be widespread. The issue is not just centred around recruitment of staff, but also hostilebehaviour towards those with mental health problems. Awareness of mental healthissues, appropriate language, symptoms and treatment is “disturbinglylow” among employers and employees, it found. There is also an absence of expert information, advice and help, andemployers and managers often lack the confidence to take action. The report recommends that employers need a specific mental health policy orto review their existing policies to integrate mental health better. Moretraining is needed on the awareness and understanding of discrimination aboutmental health. There should also be better access to expert help, advice, information andsupport, with Government, employers and unions needing to join forces. “There is a serious absence of expert information, advice or help foremployers and employees trying to address mental health problems at work,”it argues. There should also be a review of GPs and the role of other specialistservices in how they can support individuals and organisations, it recommends. A national standard framework for employers should be established and theGovernment should undertake more research into work opportunities,the reportconcludes. The report’s findings back previous research undertaken by mental healthcharity Mind which showed that 69 per cent of people with mental healthproblems had been put off applying for jobs for fear of unfair treatment. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.
Marks & Spencer and Whitbread are the latest large employers to revealplans to axe their final salary pension schemes. M&S has announced a review of its pension fund benefits and is planningto stop the existing scheme, which has 59,000 members, within the next fewmonths. The company has not yet decided what type of pension will replace itsnon-contributory final salary scheme. M&S spokeswoman Jane Low said the firm had taken the decision to reviewpension provision to reduce its fund liability and provide more protectionagainst investment performance. She stressed that none of the 40,000 members in the existing scheme will beaffected, and the options will only be offered to new recruits. The Whitbread group is set to reduce its pensions bill by closing its £1.2bnsalary-linked scheme on New Year’s Day and offer new staff the choice of apurchase scheme or stakeholder pension. The group hopes this will reduce company contributions to as little as 3 percent of salary – down from 10.9 per cent under the current scheme. Whitbread spokesman Jeremy Probert said, “A money purchase scheme ismore suited to our company because we have a lot of young workers and peoplewho are not exactly transient, but who don’t necessarily stay forever.” The measures are also in response to tough FRS 17 accountancy rules whichforce firms to take the full cost of pensions into their yearly accounts. Lloyds TSB and Sainsbury’s have already closed their final salary schemesdue to concerns over this potential cost burden. By Phil Boucher Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Two more firms fold their final salary pension plansOn 4 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today
Previous Article Next Article IT sector shows signs of stability as turnover fallsOn 5 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Staff turnover in the IT sector dropped sharply during 2001. A study by Computer Economics shows turnover fell from 19.3 to 12.7 per centin the six months to November last year. The November 2001Computer Staff Salary Survey of more than 500 companiesalso reveals the resignation rate fell from 12.7 to 6.8 per cent over the sameperiod. Companies also reported an improvement in recruitment with thoseexperiencing problems down from 55.2 per cent for the previous six months to44.7 per cent. A spokesman for the Computer Economics said: “The suggestion is thatfirms are now in a strong position in terms of retention in IT for the nextyear. “A certain uneasiness over the current economic position could be afactor in this stability, with employees displaying some reticence in changingjobs until the market position becomes clear,” he added. Related posts:No related photos.
Comments are closed. With these chocolates you’re not spoiling usl Some companies know how to spoil their employees. Counter staff at Lloyds TSB got all excited when they were promised prizes as part of a new scheme to get customers to take up new accounts, loans and credit cards.But before they could say, “Will it be 1,000 air miles towards my summer holiday?”, mangled chocolate bars started turning up in the internal mail. One member of staff said: “I received a Twix bar – all squashed and flattened – attached to a letter. It wasn’t even the usual-sized Twix, just a single one.”This only goes to prove that what managers think will be a staff perk can become a source of annoyance.Surely Lloyds TSB should have realised by now that if you’re going to spoil your staff (or even the ambassador) with delicacies then it has to be Guru’s chocolate of choice – Fererro Rocher, of course.Losing HR is not good party trickl Just as Guru was starting to take Iain Duncan Smith seriously, he makes a classic mistake. With the coffers of Conservative Central Office not exactly overflowing, IDS has taken cost-cutting steps.A begging letter sent out to party members – explaining that 1,000 leaflets cost £35 – has been followed by the departure of key staff. The personnel manager and a senior librarian are among those who have left – HR will now be handled by the director of operations.Guru would have hoped that the personnel manager’s name had been on a different list. Without wishing to rubbish librarians, HR could play a vital role in fostering the changes needed to make the party credible.Sven habits seem highly effectivel It seems we can’t get enough of Sven Goran Eriksson. Our footballing svengali has been in serious demand after his whirlwind start as England manager.The world loves a winner and, after England’s humbling of Paraguay, Sven has launched his own CD, a range of suits and even given a lecture to the Institute of Directors.He explained to esteemed members how important it is to have inspirational leadership. Guru didn’t realise this also meant getting splashed across the tabloids for (alleged) sexual shenanigans. Could it be a subtle leadership ploy? There is little doubt that his ‘association’ with Ulrika will win him kudos on the terraces, but will it help bring home the ultimate trophy? Guru doubts it.Budget could cause robotic takeoverl Manufacturers are up in arms about the Budget. Just as they were starting to recover from the effects of a strong pound and the economic downturn, along comes the Chancellor and ups National Insurance contributions.It will impose a £4bn burden on business and many hard-pressed manufacturers are worried it will cost jobs – unless productivity can be increased. Others, however, are already exploring alternative routes to productivity. Figures compiled by the University of Warwick show that 1,941 new robots were installed in 2001, the largest number in any one year. The overall tally in the UK is now 13,500.Robots are starting to dominate the production lines of the automotive and food and drink industries, but Guru could think of more than one employer that would like to introduce them into their HR teams if they thought it would cut costs. Previous Article Next Article guruOn 30 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.
Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. A revolution has taken place in Russia’s labour laws. But, says Ben Hooson,employees have made little fuss, despite the balance of power firmly shiftingto employers Photos by Paul MillerRussia’s new Labour Code, which took effect in February this year,revolutionises the country’s labour relations: among other things it curbs therole of unions, strictly qualifies the right to strike and extends the groundsfor dismissal. The new code replaces one that had been in force since 1970, theheyday of Soviet power. It is surprising that private employers have managed to survive 10 years ofcapitalism with a work charter written for a state-owned economy. Just assurprising has been the lack of response to the new code. Lawyers and HRmanagers report neither an upsurge of labour law cases nor a feverishredesigning of labour relations by companies One reason for this, perhaps, is the difficulty in understanding the code,which runs to 100 pages of A4 paper. It is not the most user-friendly piece oflabour legislation in the world. “It is smaller than the French Code, but it is pretty dense, and mostemployers are not going to decipher much without plenty of legal consultation:it has not been clarified yet and there will need to be a lot ofclarification,” says Felix Kugel, head of the Manpower office in Moscow. Previous governments tried to win approval for Labour Code amendments sincethe mid-1990s, but ran up against implacable opposition from acommunist-dominated parliament. The communists were punished for theirstubbornness when they lost their majority in parliament, and the governmentput through a draft more biased towards employers than anything proposedbefore. Irate demonstrators with a forest of red flags picketed the parliamentbuilding in downtown Moscow when the draft was approved last July, but theycould not stop the inevitable. The new code has also been criticised by the International LabourOrganisation, which found some provisions incompatible with its conventions,and recommended that the Russian government change them before final readingsof the draft law in parliament last December – but to no avail. While some may argue that the code has gone too far, it is clear that somerebalancing in favour of employers was needed. The labour legislation thatRussia inherited from the USSR was written for a country in which employers andtrade unions were both controlled by the state, making conflict unthinkable.The old law gave unions right of veto over top management appointments, made itimpossible to fire any union official (however humble), and required unionconsent for dismissal of an employee who was a union member. “There were legal cases where a sacked employee went to a court, provedhe was a union member and automatically won a judgement that the sacking wasunlawful,” says Evgeny Reyzman, head of the labour relations department atthe Moscow office of legal company Baker & McKenzie. The new code leaves no vestige of union interference in managementappointments, severely curtails the ability of unions to defend their membersfrom dismissal, and gives employers the choice of five grounds for firing eventhe most senior union official. Dominance of first one side and then the other ought to have created plentyof work for the lawyers in the past 10 years and three months – particularlywith Russia struggling with the legacy of massive over-employment in the Sovieteconomy. But labour disputes rarely make the courts or headlines in Russia. GalinaMelnikova, HR consulting director at Ernst & Young CIS in Moscow, explainsthe disincentives for settling labour issues by recourse to the law from theemployee’s perspective. “Employees have been afraid to go to court.Because of their built-in Soviet psychology, they tend to believe that theemployer will win in the end and create problems for the employee if he makestrouble. It is better to go quietly,” Melnikova says. The motivations for the employer are quite different, but also discourageuse of labour legislation. Says Melnikova: “The courts tend to beprotective of the employee – he is in front on the court and can tell a storythat wins sympathy, while the employer has to produce documented proof ofdismissal grounds. There is a lack of precedents – for example, in the US itwould be clear that unethical use of the internet in work time would justifydismissal, but that is not necessarily true here.” The new code rules that discovery of false information in a job applicationprovides grounds for dismissal, but the code’s provisions on what constitutesproper qualification for a job are hazy – inevitable in a country where a lotof people are doing jobs (in private banks and so on) for which training didnot previously exist. The impact of labour law is also limited by the scale of Russia’s blackeconomy, and the widespread practice of paying wages under the counter to avoidpayroll taxes. All these reasons encourage informal regulation of disputes (mutualagreements), by which an employee quits with no fuss in return for a cashpayment. “Most of the time, termination is just a question of price,”Melnikova says. According to Kugel of Manpower, cash is also the main tool for resolvingissues between companies and unions. “In Russia, most corporationsinvolved in production, where unions are present, simply buy off the unions.That is true under the old and the new systems – everyone needs to make money andunions are no different,” he says. In fact, it is dubious whether large parts of the union movement trulyrepresent workers’ interests in Russia. The Federation of Independent TradeUnions (by far the biggest union organisation) is a direct descendant of theSoviet trade union movement, which was simply an appendage of the state. “The Federation and its member organisations do not represent workers.That is known, though it is hard to prove. My opinion is that it reflects theinterests of the nomenklatura and government bureaucrats,” says TatyanaKosmarskaya, an economist specialising in labour relations at the EU-backedRussian-European Centre for Economic Policy. This would explain the failure of the Federation, which helped draft the newLabour Code, to force the inclusion of more safeguards for employees. Thereseems to have been a trade-off, with the Federation tolerating employer-biasedprovisions in return for provisions that will make it easier for the Federationto prevent the development of competitor unions. Employers won their biggest victory in the new code over the right tostrike. Under the old system any union had the right to declare a strike. Inthe new system, a strike is only legitimate if it is declared for a fixedperiod of time, and if it wins majority approval at a meeting attended bytwo-thirds of the workforce. This makes strikes in some professions and tradesimpossible. “The 1990s showed that genuine strikes – not strikes organised bybusinessmen in order to seize control of a company – always involved arelatively small part of an enterprise’s workforce. Suppose that trolleybusdrivers at a depot have a grievance, but it does not concern other staff. Thedrivers are a small part of the workforce at the depot so they cannot legallystrike,” says Oleg Shein, parliament deputy and head of the LabourSolidarity party, which maintains that the new code effectively abolishes theright to strike in Russia. New provisions on collective bargaining and agreements at enterprise level implythat unions that include half or more of the workforce will be the solenegotiating partner with management, excluding any smaller unions. If no unionor other worker organisation can muster 50 per cent of the workforce, theemployer is largely free to choose who he talks with. “If a union is doing a good job representing employees, the employercan organise a campaign to get union membership below 50 per cent of theworkforce and then refuse to deal with it,” says Irene Stevenson, labourspecialist at The Solidarity Center. The centre promotes the role of tradeunions in countries making the transition to democracy. According to Stevenson, this is exactly what McDonald’s has achieved inRussia. The fast-food chain had a major headache with a minority union andtried banning it a couple of years ago, which led to it losing a court case anda run of bad publicity. Thanks to the new code, this particular headache iscured. Despite the criticism, the new code does resolve some problems within theRussian workplace. It regulates, among other things, accident responsibility,paid leave (minimum 28 days per year), maternity leave and training. Employmentcontracts, which could be verbal under old legislation, must now be written andtheir required structure is set out in detail. Temporary contracts are nowallowed for a larger range of professions and posts, including CEOs and chiefaccountants, though some HR managers think legislators could have gone further.Labour mobility and serfdomRussia badly needs increased labourmobility to relocate workers to new jobs from moribund Soviet-era factories,which are often sole employers for whole towns and even cities. Defenders ofthe new code say that simpler rules on workforce reduction will help. Unfortunately,the code has no impact on the infamous system of propiska (registration), bywhich individuals have no access to education and health services or even theright to remain in a city or region unless they are registered at a fixedaddress there. Getting registration in a new place is beset by bureaucraticobstacles. Propiska was introduced by Stalin, who effectively revived theserfdom of Tsarist times to ensure strict control of labour flows for hismassive industrialisation effort. Post-Soviet politicians are maintaining itbecause of huge income differences that have appeared around the country in thepast 10 years. Administrators in resource-rich regions (particularly oil-richWest Siberia) and prosperous cities are worried about the pressure on theirinfrastructure from an influx of migrant workers. “Labour mobility is unworkable as long as you havepropiska,” says Irene Stevenson. “If the main plant in a one-factorytown lays off workers, those workers cannot move to another town because they willlose all health care rights, the right to send their kids to school, they willnot even be able call an ambulance. You need money or connections to getregistered in a new place. So if people do move, they become fodder for theinformal economy, because they have to remain unofficial.”The Russia Constitutional Court has ruled propiska unlawful,but local administrations have so far simply ignored the ruling. Wages and wages in kindBy far the biggest cause of labourunrest in post-Soviet Russia has been wage arrears, which grew to huge levelsin 1998 because of the government’s monetarist policies and the diversion ofcash to financial markets by crooked managers. Arrears stood at a staggering$10bn at the end of 1998 (about $150, or the average monthly wage, for everyworking Russian), although they have since tumbled to about $1bn due to roubledevaluation and settlement of the debt. The new code allows employees to quit work and sue theiremployer if wages are withheld for more than two weeks. It also limits paymentof wages in kind to 20 per cent of overall salary. (Until recently peopletrying to sell their ‘wages’ – anything from car parts to huge sacks of popcorn– were a common sight along roads throughout the country.)Employees on low salaries, mainly in the public sector, seemedto have won a major victory under the new code with the creation of a minimumwage, which must be no less than the official subsistence minimum (about $50 amonth). This would translate into a $2.7bn increase in the Government’s wagebill, according to Labour minister Alexander Pochinok – but, not surprisingly,the Government has given itself an indefinite reprieve. “There is no lawon the method of setting the subsistence level, and the minimum wage provisionin the code cannot operate until such a law has been passed,” says EvgenyReyzman of Baker & McKenzie. Previous Article Next Article RevolutionOn 1 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today
Online candidates ‘more likely to make shortlist’On 4 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Candidates applying to the BBC through the Internet are of a higher qualitythan other applicants and are being shortlisted more often, according to thefirm’s head of online recruitment. John Clark told delegates that although the split between paper and onlineapplications was even, the corporation was shortlisting slightly morecandidates who applied via the web. “We now get around 50 per cent of our responses from the internet, andit also offersa slightly higher quality candidate than from paperapplications,” he said. He claimed online candidates tend to be more suitable because it is possibleto give more detail about job positions on the web and adverts are bigger. Clarke said the ability to attract good-quality applications at the BBC wasvital because it recruits just 6,000 to 7,000 new staff every year from morethan 100,000 applications. “It’s almost 95 per cent wastage so the BBCvalues the quality and not quantity of applications,” he said. Clarke told delegates that the BBC is advertising more in publications thathave a wide ethnic readership because it needs to improve the proportion of itsmanagers from ethnic minorities, which currently stands at only 2 per centcompared to an overall ethnic population of 8 per cent throughout theorganisation. “It means we have a lot of ethnic cleaners and caterers but not manymanagers and that’s not good enough. We want the BBC to reflect the diversityof the overall license-paying public,” he said. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article
More than a third of British workers believe it is acceptable to take theodd day off even if they are not genuinely ill, a survey has found. The poll, by absence management firm Crown Computing, reported 35 per centof the 975 respondents said they would be prepared to throw a ‘sickie’, with 63per cent citing a hangover as the top reason for doing so. A fine summer’s day was also a popular excuse (37 per cent), as was wantingto spend more time with a loved one (31 per cent). But, tracking absence, docking pay for absence and conducting back-to-workinterviews were all effective in putting people off. Londoners, on 52 per cent, were the least likely to pull back the covers andgo back to bed if they had a hangover, compared with 73 per cent in Yorkshireand Humberside and the South West. Mike Hawkesford, Crown managing director, said: “Flexible working canhelp motivate staff and reduce the instances where people feel they have totake unauthorised days off. Keeping an eye on absences can help identify trendsand patterns.” UK workforce happy to take ‘sickies’On 1 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.
Three steps to career success Fiona Brady, director, HR consultancy HRHROn 14 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today Not sure where you are at with your career? HR career coach Fiona Bradyoffers some tips Step one Assess where you are at and identify some options for going forward. Someoptions are: 1 Stay in your current role, learn new skills and promote yourself to thenext level rather than taking a sideways move 2 Depending on your experience, consider an interim contract. Make sure youchoose carefully as you might not want to end up in a ‘firefighting’ role orone that is too prescriptive. Senior managers may find this a good time to landan interim contract, as there are lots of corporate restructures currentlytaking place 3 Consultancy may be worth a look. With a bit of networking, you could dowell with two or three clients plus an associate role. The Chartered Instituteof Personnel and Development (CIPD) Specialist Interest Group networks orBusiness Link are good places to start 4 Take a sideways move with the aim of working in another industry, locationor more high-profile organisation 5 Take the most popular option of staying in the same industry sector andmoving for a better job and more money. Step two How to equip yourself to progress your career: 1 Have belief in yourself and visualise yourself succeeding 2 Work towards adding value in your work that will set you apart from others3 Plan and manage your diary 4 Evaluate your goals regularly as there will be setbacks 5 Enrol help – you may well need a support network to help you achievesuccess. This could be friends, family, a life coach or a mentor 6 The CIPD continuing professional development log is invaluable in helpingto map out goals and measure your achievements. Step three It is important to reflect on your work to look to the future. 1 Look at what you didn’t like about your last job – was it a workingrelationship that did not work out, or did you take the job out of panic to geta job, for example? 2 Understand what kind of job you are looking for. Firing out loads of CVswill only cause frustration. Be realistic about your skills – if there are anygaps in your experience then diarise them, as this will help you plug the gaps 3 Plan your self-development. Talk to different parts of the HR function andask people why projects succeed and fail. Find out what lessons can be learned.This will help in future interviews 4 Attend CIPD events to learn and to network 5 Sit down with your line manager and ask to take on tasks that will helpyou gain promotion. For example, you could ask to present management reports 6 Most importantly, don’t move roles for the sake of it. Ask for advice frompeople you trust. Fiona Brady, MCIPD, is director of HR consultancy HRHR, www.hrhrpersonnelservices.com,and will be talking at a fringe meeting on careers for HR professionals at thisyear’s CIPD conference at Harrogate. The meeting takes place on 22 October at6.30pm at St George Hotel, Harrogate Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article