Personnel Today presses for change

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Personnel Today presses for changeOn 18 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today Pushing for progress in HR, Personnel Today has taken a stand on issues thatwill make a difference to business and lobbied MPs for government actionTribunals Ground-breaking research by Personnel Today showed that human resourcesdepartments are increasingly under pressure because of a surge in employmentdisputes. Nearly half of respondents said they are more likely to settle out of courtsince the compensation limit was raised from £12,000 to £50,000 in 1999. The sum spent by the 137 companies surveyed on defending cases in tribunalswas at least £1.8m. Firms taking part in the research also paid out anestimated £700,000 on settling cases before they reached employment tribunals. In November, the Government set out new measures to try and reduce theburden on the tribunal system. The new Employment Bill – due to become law nextyear – includes the requirement for employers and staff to use internalgrievance procedures before going to tribunal. The Government also introduced afixed period of consultation and tough penalties for either party if they don’ttry conciliation first. Equal pay Personnel Today strongly supported the Equal Pay Task Force’s recommendationthat employers perform mandatory pay audits. We called for senior staff, linemanagers and employees to embrace the case for fair pay. The Government outlined proposals to streamline the tribunal system forequal pay claims, but claimed it wanted to adopt a voluntary approach tofurther measures to tackle the divide. It appointed the CompetitionCommission’s Denise Kingsmill to undertake a review of employers’ attitudes, toreport in December. This month the Government unveiled new proposals to cut the pay gapfollowing the review. They included the right for women to know what malecolleagues of the same level were earning and called for the publication of paydiversity in annual reports. More radical proposals were ignored, however, such as the overhaul of theInvestors in People kitemark to include sex inequality, a research centre forwomen in employment and public sector board pay being linked to diversitytargets. The CIPD warned that if employers don’t adopt a transparent approachvoluntarily then legislation could follow. Consultation The internal communication of heavy job losses at steel giant Corus and carmanufacturer Vauxhall earlier in the year received widespread criticism for anunsympathetic approach. Former Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers announced a review ofemployers’ obligations to inform and consult staff over business restructuringin the UK. Personnel Today sent an open letter to the DTI to ensure that the views ofHR professionals would be included in the review. The profession was concernedthat the Government wanted a political quick-fix after bad publicity DTI minister Alan Johnson responded and promised a “thorough andwide-ranging review”. But the review was overtaken by events in Europe. In June, the UK Government was left isolated in its resistance to Brussels’Information and Consultation directive and it was eventually agreed that itwould become law. It will ensure that employers with more than 50 staff consult theirworkforce in detail about redundancies and mergers much earlier than is normalpractice in the UK or face harsh penalties. In October, MEPs pushed to make the directive’s implementation and penaltiesless flexible. It is due to be agreed this week. RefugeesPersonnel Today launched a campaign to help refugees andasylum-seekers into employment. Many organisations still face skills shortagesin key areas, and we felt it was in the interest of employers to be able torecruit staff from the widest possible pool. Despite refugees and many asylum-seekers having permission towork in the UK, they face barriers to finding work. Our campaign is aimed atpersuading the Government to do its part in removing those barriers. We set about finding examples of employers which have eitherfaced difficulties in recruiting refugees or are helping refugees into work.Personnel Today’s exclusive story on Oxford Bus Company’s inability to employtwo asylum-seekers because of DVLA red tape has since become a definitive casestudy.In November, the magazine published joint research with theRefugee Council that shows nine out of 10 employers want to take on refugeesand asylum-seekers to meet skills shortages. But many of the 255 employers areput off by red tape and legal fears. Over 60 per cent of the 153 refugees surveyed by PersonnelToday and the Refugee Council have been unemployed in the UK for more than ayear, despite many being well qualified and having work experience.Personnel Today has addressed leading conferences on itscampaign, and has been invited to make a presentation to the All PartyCommittee on Refugees in the House of Commons. We hope the Government will takeon board the campaign aims over the next year, starting with the White Paper onrefugees and asylum-seekers due to be published in January 2002.  Personnel Today is asking theGovernment to:– Introduce a standard permission-to-work document for refugeesand asylum-seekers– Commit to cutting red tape for employers who want to employrefugees and asylum-seekers– Develop a skills database of immigrants in the UK– Produce concrete plans to co-ordinate the employment ofrefugees and asylum-seekers last_img

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