Parents should be stopped from requesting additional work leave until 2017 according to leaked Beecroft report

According to a leaked report from Downing Street, parents should not be able to request additional leave from work until at least 2017 due to cost and potential operational problems.

The report also urges a relaxation of British laws to allow small firms to opt out of seven different employment laws including providing pensions for their workers. A wider move to allow flexible working for all employees from next year should also be scrapped, it recommends.

The Daily Telegraph has obtained a copy of the Beecroft report, a controversial set of recommendations on reforming Britain’s employment laws and regulations which are “impeding” business and “exacerbating the national problem of high unemployment”.

It is claimed that the measures would save business billions of pounds and allow them to “grow and employ more people”.

However, ministers are determined to push ahead with the flexible parental leave scheme, in a move which is expected to lead to renewed accusations that the Government is not focused on helping Britain recover from recession.

The decision runs contrary to one of the key recommendations in the 24-page Beecroft report, compiled by Adrian Beecroft, one of Britain’s most successful venture capitalists, in conjunction with Government officials and lawyers.

The report concludes: “This proposal is very expensive for the Exchequer (roughly £150m p.a.) and will impose significant operational problems on business. The proposal should (preferably) be scrapped or alternatively be deferred until the deficit has been eliminated. If it is introduced there should at least be provisions ensuring that employers are given reasonable notice of periods of absence.”

Mr Beecroft was commissioned by Downing Street to conduct his review, which was completed last autumn,

David Cameron is said to be in favour of many of the proposals but the key recommendations have been blocked by Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and other Liberal Democrats.

Until today, the report has not been published despite being the subject of intense Whitehall negotiations. Dr Cable is soon to publish the report after a series of Freedom of Information requests.

Telegraph

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Drop in unemployment boosted by part-time odd jobbers

Unemployment falls again but double dip labour market only boosted by ‘part-time odd jobbers’

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), comments as follows on official labour market statistics for the period January – March 2012 published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

“These are odd figures best explained by a surge in part-time odd jobbing. A sharp quarterly rise of over 100,000 in the number of people in work combined with another welcome fall in joblessness is remarkable for an economy that dipped back into recession at the start of the year. Such an outcome would normally be a sign of economic recovery. However, while optimists might conclude that this casts doubt on the reliability of the most recent official GDP growth figures, a more sober assessment is that a very weak economy is managing to keep unemployment in check only by maintaining a severe squeeze on the size of pay packets and creating enough low productivity work to allow people to avoid the dole by doing the odd part-time job here and there, either as employees or on a casual self-employed basis.

“While a weak double dip labour market might be able to sustain enough odd jobbing to prevent unemployment hitting the 3 million mark, the combination of a growing army of underemployed odd jobbers, 2.63 million people unemployed and pay rises still lagging well behind price inflation suggests that the underlying employment situation is worse than at any point in at least the past two decades.”

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CIPD unveils evidence highlighting the solid business case supporting an extension of right to request flexible working

Research shows light touch legislation has benefitted business and staff

As reports suggest the Government is poised to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), reveals that only a tiny minority (4%) of employers have had difficulties complying with the current right to request flexible working since it was introduced nearly 10 years ago*. The CIPD is calling on the Government to hold its nerve and go ahead with the extension in this week’s Queen’s speech.

With 96% of employers providing flexible working arrangement to at least some employees, the research finds that seven out of ten employers report that flexible working supports employee retention, motivation and engagement. Almost two thirds of employers believe flexible working supports their recruitment activities and half believe it has a positive impact on reducing absence as well as on boosting productivity.

The study, Flexible working: provision and uptake, finds that small employers are least likely to report difficulties with the right to request legislation, and in all, three quarters of employees make use of flexible working of some type. People working for micro-and small firms are more likely to be working flexibly in some way (90% and 78% respectively) than those working for medium (67%) or large-sized employers (29%).

However the study, based on a survey of more than a 1,000 employers and a survey of more than 2,000 employees, shows the type of flexibility commonly used is quite limited.
While the use of part-time working (32%), flexitime (25%), home working (20%) and mobile working (14%) is comparatively common, other types of flexible working are hardly used. Just 5% of workers use compressed hours, 2% use term-time working, and 1% job share.
Flexible working among non managerial employees is largely limited to part-time working (39%) and flexi-time (28%) with just 14% of such staff working from home and 10% mobile working. About one in three employees working for medium sized and large organisations have no access to flexible working. Six in ten employees with no managerial responsibility who don’t work flexibly would like to do so.

Ben Willmott, CIPD Head of Public Policy, comments: “The CIPD has long been calling for the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, despite claims from some quarters that the legislation is burdensome for businesses. Similar concerns were raised over a decade ago about the plans to introduce the statutory right to request flexible working for parents. Those fears have proved unfounded – regardless of size of organisation.

“Our report finds that just 3% of micro businesses and small businesses, 4% of medium-sized businesses and 5% of large businesses have reported problems complying with the existing right to request flexible working. Micro and small employers are more likely than larger organisations to manage flexible working informally rather than through formal policies and procedures, which appears to more than compensate for any lack of formal HR support.

“The argument for extending the right to request to all employees is based on a broad business case. More than seven out of ten employers report that flexible working supports employee retention, motivation and engagement. Almost two third of employers believe flexible working supports their recruitment activities, while half believe it has a positive impact on reducing absence as well as on boosting productivity.

“From the employee perspective, flexible working is linked to higher levels of employee engagement and wellbeing. Our report finds that employees satisfied with their work-life balance are more likely to be engaged and less likely to say they are under excessive pressure.”

“This report shows that a significant proportion of those employees who don’t work flexibly would want to do so – particularly those below management level. It also finds that many flexible working solutions are not widely used, for example job sharing or the use of annualised hours – or are only available to more senior staff. Managers are much more likely to be able to work from home or benefit from mobile working than other members of staff and while, this is partly likely to be because of differences in the nature of the work between managers and their employees, in some organisations, it is because of culture and ingrained attitudes.”

“Our report also shows that wild claims about risk that extending the light-touch right to request legislation would lead to large numbers of tribunal claims are unfounded. The right to request flexible working has not contributed to any significant increase in employment tribunal claims. For example, since 2006, the period for which we have figures, the most number of tribunal claims generated by the flexible working regulations in any one year has been 344, with the vast majority of such claims in all years either resulting in an Acas conciliated settlement, withdrawn or settled privately between the parties. Put simply, flexible working works for business, and the Government should hold its nerve and go ahead with the extension to all employees. The result will be good news for business, employers and the wider economy.”

* The current right to request flexible working, which covers parents of children aged up to 17 and disabled children up to 18 and some carers, was first introduced in 2003.

CIPD Press Release

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CIPD research shows ‘reality’ gap in managers’ capability is undermining economic growth

New research finds ‘reality gap’ in the capability of UK plc’s 8 million managers, undermining attempts to boost economic growth

Poor managers need to look in the mirror if they want to get the best out of their people

New research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found that three quarters of employers report a lack of leadership and management skills and too many managers have an inflated opinion of their ability to manage people. In response, the CIPD is urging Government and employers to recognise that just a small increase in capability amongst the UK’s eight million people managers would make a significant contribution to productivity and growth.

According to the CIPD’s research, 72% of employers report a deficit of leadership and management skills*. However, the CIPD’s quarterly Employee Outlook survey of 2,000 employees, released today, also suggests that one problem in tackling this skills deficit is that many managers don’t know how bad they are at managing people.

Eight out of ten managers say they think their staff are satisfied or very satisfied with them as a manager whereas just 58% of employees report this is the case. This ‘reality gap’ matters as the survey finds a very clear link between employees who say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their manager and those that are engaged – i.e. willing to go the extra mile for their employer.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, comments: “Leadership and management capability continues to be an Achilles heel for UK plc, despite mounting evidence that these are ‘skills for growth’ essentials. Our research shows almost three in ten people (28%) – equating to about eight million people across the UK workforce – have direct management responsibility for one or more people in the workplace, and yet only just over half of employees are satisfied with their manager. A small increase in capability across this huge population of people managers would have a significant impact on people’s engagement, wellbeing and productivity. However, too many employees are promoted into people management roles because they have good technical skills, then receive inadequate training and have little idea of how their behaviour impacts on others.”

The CIPD research found a significant contrast between how managers say they manage their people and the views of their employees.

• Six in ten (61%) of managers claim they meet each person they manage at least twice a month to talk about their workload, meeting objectives and other work-related issues. However, just 24% of employees say they meet their managers with such frequency.
• More than 90% of managers say they sometimes or always coach the people they manage when they meet, while only 40% of employees agree.
• Three quarters (75%) of managers say they always/sometimes discuss employees’ development and career progression during one to ones, but just 38% of employees say this happens.
• There are similar gaps in views between managers and employees on how often managers: joint problem solve with employees; discuss ideas employees might have to improve the business and; discuss employees’ wellbeing.

Willmott continues: “Too many managers fall into a vicious circle of poor management; they don’t spend enough time providing high quality feedback to the people they manage, or coaching and developing them or tapping into their ideas and creativity, which means they then have to spend more time dealing with stressed staff, absence or conflict and the associated disciplinary and grievance issues. Good managers value and prioritise the time with their staff because they realise that this is the only way to get the best out of them. Employers need to get better at identifying and addressing management skills deficits through low cost and no cost interventions such as coaching by other managers, mentoring, on-line learning, the use of management champions, peer to peer networks, toolkits, and self assessment questionnaires.

“Government also needs to play a bigger role in building demand among employers for investment in the leadership and management skills that are central to its efforts to support economic growth and transform public services. Sector Skills Councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships should be tasked with ensuring addressing leadership and management capability is a priority across all sectors and regions of the economy. Without this, potential for economic growth in the UK will be shackled.”

CIPD

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Sharp rise in number of men working part-time helps cut jobless total according to CIPD research

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), comments as follows on official labour market statistics for the period December 2011 – February 2012 published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

“The jobs figures are a nice surprise. The labour market didn’t just stabilise at the turn of the year, it actually picked up very slightly. Employment is up and unemployment is down, as is youth unemployment. There are more job vacancies and hours worked have increased. This good news on jobs suggests that the economy will have avoided a dip back into recession in the first quarter, although whether the recovery strengthens enough to deliver a sustained fall in unemployment remains to be seen and it’s far too soon to rewrite the jobs forecasts.

“Moreover, it’s clear that the labour market remains in a fragile state. The rise in employment and fall in unemployment is mainly due to a sharp quarterly rise in the number of men working part-time, the vast majority doing so because unable to find full-time work. By contrast the number of women in work was broadly unchanged with female unemployment rising slightly. Indeed, these latest figures mark a change from the pattern of male and female employment growth seen throughout most of 2011 and may be the first clear sign that public sector job cuts are finally starting to have an adverse effect on women’s job prospects.

“With the number of women in work at best flat-lining, and many men and women unable to find full-time jobs, it would be unwise to get too excited by a welcome fall in unemployment. A properly recovering jobs market is not characterised by a growing army of underemployed part-timers and pay rises still falling well short of price inflation.”

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

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Women in their 50s are defying jobs recession according to CIPD research

‘Madonna generation’ of women aged over 50 defy jobs recession

In its latest Work Audit report, published today, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) looks at how the jobs recession that began in 2008 has affected men and women across the age spectrum:

The report Age, gender and the jobs recession, which is based on official statistics from the Labour Force Survey, finds:

• There are 271,000 (8%) more women aged 50-64 in the labour market than at the start of the recession and 200,000 (6.2%) more in work. The number of men in this age group in employment has risen by only 3,000.

• Women aged 50-64, and men and women aged 65 and over are the only age groups to have registered an increase in both the number in work and employment rates since the start of the jobs recession and have also registered the smallest increases in unemployment.

• People aged 25-34 are the only other age group to see a rise in employment over the course of the jobs recession, with the number in work increasing by 249,000 (4%), much of the increase likely to be due to inward migration.

• Across all age groups there are 387,000 fewer men in work (a net fall of 2.4%) than in the first quarter of 2008. By contrast the number of women in work is only 8,000 (0.05%) lower.

• Although the number of unemployed women has increased by almost half a million, to reach a record level of 1.12 million, this is not primarily due to fewer jobs for women but instead to a relatively large rise (of 438,000) in the number of women participating in the labour market. Even accounting for this, the gender unemployment gap (i.e. the difference between the male and female unemployment rate) has increased from 0.8 percentage points to 1.3 percentage points.

• The relatively stronger employment outcome for women is mainly the result of a substantial rise of 172,000 (16.3%) in the number of women in self-employment. The number of women working full time as employees has fallen by 220,000 (3%), partly offset by a small rise in part-time employment (up 44,000 or 0.9%).

• Women have seen relatively strong net employment growth in managerial, professional and technical occupations but have done much less well in traditionally feminised occupations. The number of women in administrative, secretarial, sales and customer services roles has fallen by almost 400,000 since the start of the recession. Somewhat surprisingly, the number of men performing this kind of semi-skilled white collar work has increased, the net fall in male employment resulting from substantial job loss in skilled and semi-skilled blue collar occupations – skilled trades and plant, process and machine operation – and unskilled work.

• The older people get the more likely it is that they will remain out of work for longer when unemployed, although long-term unemployment rates have increased more for younger than older people since the start of the jobs recession. Men have much higher rates of long-term unemployment than women in every age group although the share of women who are long-term unemployed has increased in all age groups.

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the CIPD, comments:

“When it comes to work, older people have clearly fared better than young people during the jobs recession. But what’s also clear is that older women have done best of all. While a combination of population ageing and fewer people wanting to retire early, either for financial reasons or because of a broader desire to prolong their working lives, is boosting the older workforce, it is older women that are getting most of the available jobs. Just why this is happening requires further examination, though with the modern generation of 50 something women more likely to view Madonna than Grandma Grey as a role model, the economically active older woman is well on course to be ever more prominent in British workplaces in the coming years.

“However, the relatively good outcome for older women during the recession is no cause for complacency about the need to continually stress the business case for an even more age diverse workforce as the economy starts to recover, especially with so much public policy action understandably focused on cutting youth unemployment. Simplistic talk about older people staying in jobs at the expense of the young must not be allowed to put a brake on progress toward nudging employers to do even better in coping with demographic change. An ageing workforce presents both challenges and opportunities for employers, who at some point in the not too distant future will struggle to fill vacancies unless they recruit and retain older workers, women and men, in even far greater numbers.

“While policy measures such as the removal of the Default Retirement Age in October 2011 are helping to maintain progress, lingering opposition to that positive move demonstrates just how difficult it can be to change the business mindset. It’s vital therefore that the relative fortunes of old and young people during the jobs recession is used to stimulate discussion about how best to improve employment prospects overall, so as to avoid pointless and unnecessary talk of an ‘intergenerational jobs war.’ This is precisely why the CIPD recently published guidance, Managing a healthy ageing workforce, which helps organisations to respond appropriately to the ageing workforce in order to gain competitive advantage in terms of recruiting and retaining talent and supporting the well-being and engagement of employees of all ages.”

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

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We allow joblessness to rise at our peril

Predictions that unemployment may jump by September make sober reading for Easter. According to the think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, 100,000 more jobs will go during the next six months, mainly in the public sector, while private sector growth will be more than matched by an increase in the total number seeking work. The same figures suggest that Britain’s, or rather England’s, North-South divide will widen as more than a third of the job losses are expected to come from the North-west of England, though London will take a hit.

One set of figures from one think-tank. But as Britain’s economic resurrection fails to materialise – manufacturing was down in February according to the Office for National Statistics – these and similar grim predictions can’t be pushed aside as Cassandra-like wails. With ministers pushing our expected economic recovery date ever further back in the calendar, joblessness seems all too likely to creep, or even jump, upwards in the coming years.

What is alarming about this is not only the spectre of a return to 1980s-style unemployment with all that went with it, but the insouciance with which ministers regard the problem. If there is any panic about it in Downing Street, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor keep it well hidden. Perhaps inevitably in a Government composed of people from privileged backgrounds, there seems to be a tendency to look on joblessness with academic detachment – all part of the pain that precedes the gain.

The perspective for those on the receiving end of the sacking letter or email is very different. To them there is more to switching from paid work to benefits than tightening one’s belt. Work is part of the stuff that holds body and soul together, which is one reason why countries with high employment rates score highly on happiness indices. With unemployment come purposelessness, depression and the loss of feeling part of a community. It can propel young people towards crime, drugs, alcohol abuse and other antisocial behaviour. And when enough people become jobless in a given area, the other danger is that being without work becomes a permanent feature of the landscape, so that if and when jobs return, local people don’t always even try to get them.

As we report today, Hull is one city in growing danger of becoming an economic black spot where work for some sections of the population is a minority occupation. With a fifth of people there aged between 25 and 64 lacking any qualifications at all – twice the national average – many people stand scant chance of getting a job even were one to become available.

Will anything be done about this downward spiral in such places? Possibly not. In the 1980s, as in the 1930s, unemployment was not a blight spread evenly. Then, as now, pressure on Tory MPs representing “comfortable” Britain to question the austerity agenda was minimal. Indeed, both decades saw Tories pursuing austerity and balanced budgets at any price returned to office. Labour talks the talk about the unemployed, and can draw comfort from polls showing confidence in the Tories’ handling of the economy is tumbling. But those same polls show that the Opposition is still widely associated with the profligate use of public money, and it is unclear exactly how Labour would tackle Britain’s jobless black spots even if it won an election.

It is true that by European standards the UK unemployment rate is fairly average. At 8.4 per cent we are worse off than jobs-rich Germany but not even in the same league as Spain, where 22 per cent are now without work. That is no excuse for the current complacency, which condemns several million people to lives of dreary inactivity from which most would like desperately to escape.

Independent on Sunday

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April 2012 employment law changes: six things employers need to know

Every April a host of changes are made to employment legislation and 2012 is no exception. This year, important amendments include those relating to tribunal procedures, unfair dismissal and statutory maternity and sick pay.  The key reforms that will affect employers are:

1. Employment tribunal procedure reformed

On 6 April 2012, the maximum amounts of deposit and costs orders increase with the aim of reflecting more accurately the cost to employers of defending tribunal claims. To minimise the cost of tribunal proceedings to the taxpayer, tribunals have a new power to direct that the parties to a dispute are responsible for paying witnesses’ expenses, and employment judges hear unfair dismissal cases alone. To speed up tribunal hearings, witness statements are taken “as read”.

2. Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and sick pay increase

On 1 April 2012, the weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases from £128.73 to £135.45.

The weekly rate of statutory sick pay also increases, from £81.60 to £85.85, on 6 April 2012.

On 6 April 2012, the lower earnings limit for primary Class 1 national insurance contributions increases from £102 to £107, the income tax personal allowance increases to £8,105, and the threshold at which employees pay the higher income tax rate of 40% is reduced to £34,371.

3. Qualifying period for unfair dismissal increases

On 6 April 2012, the qualifying period for making an unfair dismissal claim (in most circumstances) increases from one to two years. The change applies only to employees who start their job on or after 6 April 2012.

The qualifying period for the right to receive a written statement of reasons for dismissal, on request, also increases from one to two years.

4. Calculation of staging date for pensions auto-enrolment

From October 2012, employers will be required to auto-enrol eligible jobholders into a qualifying workplace pension scheme. The date from which employers must auto-enrol employees (known as the “staging date”) is based on the number of employees in their PAYE scheme on 1 April 2012.

Employers should check how many people are in their PAYE scheme to determine their staging date.

5. Accident-reporting requirements change

On 6 April 2012, the required period of incapacity following an injury caused by an accident at work, which triggers the employer’s requirement to report the accident to the enforcing authority, increases from more than three days to more than seven days. The deadline by which the employer must report the accident increases from 10 days to 15 days.

6. Definition of “independent adviser” for compromise agreements clarified

Section 147 of the Equality Act 2010 is amended on 6 April 2012 to confirm that an employee’s representative can be an “independent adviser” for the purpose of a compromise agreement. This deals with one of the conditions of a valid compromise agreement, which is that the employee has received advice from an independent adviser about the terms and effect of the agreement..


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You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process. Randall Monroe

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Staff ‘trapped’ in career silos because employers fail to recognise tranferable skills

Workers are being trapped in career silos because they don’t believe they can cross sector or industry boundaries, according to data published this morning from the Hays Career Outlook Survey.

The survey reveals employers across both the public and private sectors are unable to recognise the transferable skills that might help them to identify potential candidates who are capable of supporting their growth plans.

The survey reveals the majority of employers believe previous experience in the same sector is important. Whilst only just over a third (38%) of public sector employers say previous public sector experience is important, over half (56%) of employers in the private sector deem previous private sector experience to be important in potential candidates.

And 15% of private sector employers say that experience in commercial work is an essential competence of any prospective candidate. Over half of private sector employers (51%) say a lack of direct experience would prevent them from hiring someone from the public sector, while over a third (39%) cite a lack of transferable skills.

Charles Logan, director at Hays, said: “These findings highlight that workers believe they cannot move between sectors and that employers aren’t always able to understand or give credence to transferable skills. By over-emphasising the value of previous same-sector experience, employers could be missing out on talented people and motivated workers. It is particularly concerning in industries where there is a shortage of skilled professionals and employers may need to consider candidates who have the necessary competencies but may not at first glance be the perfect match.”

Public sector workers confessed they also struggle to move into different areas of the public sector, although this is disputed by their employers. More than three quarters (78%) of candidates say it is difficult or impossible, and 75% say they have not been encouraged to consider this as an option despite the job cuts.

But 62% of public sector employers say they have encouraged workers to look elsewhere in the sector, either through official training routes like secondments or through the application process itself. More than half (51%) cite a lack of transferable skills as the main reason why they would not hire someone from another part of the public sector.

Andy Robling, public services director at Hays, added: “Whilst the disparity of organisations under the public sector banner makes it difficult to generalise about the ease with which people should be able to move, the sector should be doing all it can to retain top talent during these challenging times. For example, the NHS is currently grappling with local commissioning, which is something local government is already well used to and there will be skilled professionals who could support this change. Line managers and HR teams must assess a candidate’s skills objectively, keep an open mind and prevent assumptions from clouding their judgement when hiring.”

A third of private (33%) and public (35%) sector workers would prefer to continue their careers in a mix of the two sectors and not restrict their career options. Just over a third (36%) of public sector employers say people in their organisation view the private sector as a more attractive career option, and private sector workers report that people are keen to stay in the commercial world when they move on.

But the vast majority (81%) of public sector workers say they are quite or very well-equipped for a career in the private sector.

HR Magazine

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