News and views

Opening this year’s conference, CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese told 1,200 delegates that the institute is focusing on three areas of work: changing workforce trends; workforce data and analytics; and the science of behaviour. He said that getting these right means that HR will truly be an enabler of change in organisations, rather than what many people consider it to be – namely, too much of a control function.

Keynote speaker Rita Gunther McGrath, associate professor of management at Columbia Business School, took a look at some of the business trends affecting employers. She told delegates that there was no such thing as sustainable competitive advantage, and gave the example of the BlackBerry manufacturer RIM, which saw its peak 43% share of the US smart phone market in 2010 drop to just 3.8% of the market in 2013.

“When we think stability is with us for a long time, we are putting ourselves at risk. So what does strategy look like in this world where advantage is no longer certain?” she asked delegates.

McGrath said that many business methodologies are no longer suitable for the today’s world and that “continuous business reconfiguration” is the key to successful change. HR’s role in this is to help organisations look at new growth areas within the business and to find resources to do that. She called this supporting “healthy disengagement” – moving away from old ways of doing things in order to explore new ideas.

HR will be required to move resources around the business and away from those who control the purse strings. And it is likely that people will defend the status quo, so HR needs to be looking for new people who will be brave enough to change the way things are done. Organisations need new processes of innovation in order to produce growth, she said.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

Almost two-thirds of men and women would be interested in taking up new rights to shared parental leave – a huge contrast to government estimates – according to a survey by law firm Linklaters.

According to the research, based on responses from 250 employees working for FTSE100 employers, 62% showed an interest in taking a period of shared parental leave after the rights come into force on 1 December.

The proportion was almost identical between men (62%) and women (63%), and is considerably higher than the Government’s estimate, which was between 2% and 5%.

One of the key factors in employees making the decision to take shared leave will be whether or not their employer decides to enhance shared parental pay to a similar level as enhanced maternity pay. Around three-quarters (76%) of those surveyed said this would be either relevant or very relevant to their decision to take time away from work.

Linklaters’ research also showed that if the child’s father is entitled to enhanced pay during shared parental leave, a mother is more likely to sacrifice some maternity leave, and this may include some paid maternity leave.

Despite indicating enthusiasm for the new rights, cultural expectations around taking time off remain a barrier, particularly with fathers. Half of the men surveyed said that they would not take a period of shared parental leave if other male colleagues refused to take it.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

Consultant editor Darren Newman discusses the ruling on holiday pay and overtime in Bear Scotland v Fulton and another. While he suggests that the very narrow view of what constitutes “a series of deductions” for the purposes of back pay may not stand up to scrutiny, he considers that any appeal is unlikely to result in a different ruling on the main issue of including overtime in holiday pay calculations.

Nobody can be surprised that the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in has ruled that a worker’s holiday pay should include the amount that he or she would ordinarily earn from working overtime. The decision of the European Court of Justice in Williams v British Airways back in 2011 pointed in that direction and the more recent decision in Lock v British Gas Trading made it inevitable.

The EAT has now confirmed that, where a worker’s normal pay varies because he or she can be required to work overtime, the calculation of a week’s pay for the purposes of annual leave should be based on an average of his or her earnings over the 12-week reference period that is already used for other workers whose normal pay varies from week to week.

What is surprising about this decision, however, is the way in which the EAT dealt with the issue of back pay…

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

Highly paid public-sector executives who receive redundancy payments only to return to work within a year will need to repay the taxpayer, the Treasury has announced.

Detailed legislative proposals mean that individuals earning more than £100,000 who take a new job in the same part of the public sector within 12 months of being made redundant will have to repay all or some of their redundancy payment.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

Initially pioneered to give women the chance of having children after undergoing cancer treatment, cryopreservation is a costly procedure. And Facebook is now offering to fund it for employees (with Apple planning to from 2015) in the hope that dedicated, career-focused women can delay the disruption to their careers caused by childbirth and motherhood.

But by offering this benefit, Facebook and Apple are sending two very dangerous messages to their workforces and to the business community at large. First, that pursuing a successful career and motherhood are mutually exclusive and should, ideally, not be undertaken at the same time; and second, that once women reach a certain age, they are past their prime and their contribution to the workplace is not as highly valued.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

HR professionals are used to looking out for the warning signs of potential claims of sex discrimination against women. But what about sex discrimination against men, as seen in the recent employment tribunal claim against Ford Motor Company over its policy on pay for men during paternity leave?

Here, we round up 10 examples of how employers’ actions against men can lead to sex discrimination claims in employment tribunals.

1. Sex discrimination in pay: men can “piggyback” on women’s equal pay claims

If a woman succeeds in an equal pay claim, comparing herself to a higher-paid male comparator, what are the rights of another man who is underpaid for doing similar work to the woman? In Hartlepool Borough Council v Llewellyn and other appeals, the EAT confirmed that a man can bring a “piggyback” claim, comparing himself with a female colleague doing like work, work rated as equivalent or work of equal value who has herself succeeded in an equal pay claim.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

How do you manage pension provisions of newly transferred employees?

TUPE and pensions – two words that should never be uttered in the same breath. For an employer that inherits employees under TUPE, getting the pension provision right for the transferring employees can be one of the most complex, and potentially costly, aspects of the transfer.

Most rights under an occupational pension scheme are excluded from TUPE, so they do not automatically transfer with the employees; however, employers need to be aware of rights that can transfer and of the minimum pension provision they are required to arrange.

We set out five key steps to help transferee employers understand their TUPE and pensions obligations.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

There has been a raft of employment law changes for HR to get to grips with already this year, including the extension of the right to request flexible working and the introduction of early conciliation by Acas.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

David Cameron speaking at the Conservative Party annual conference. Photo: REX/Ray Tang

Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking at the at the Conservative Party annual conference this week, has proposed tax cuts that could affect more than 30 million people.

If the Conservatives win next year’s general election, Cameron has made two key pledges on tax: to raise the tax-free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,500; and to increase the threshold for the higher 40p tax rate from £41,900 to £50,000.

The former would mean that an employee on the minimum wage working a 30-hour week would pay no tax at all, he said.

Raising the personal allowance would take around one million people out of income tax altogether, and mean a drop in tax for 25 million more. Cameron claimed that the changes would back people “who do the right thing”, saying that: “If you work hard, we will cut your taxes, but only if we can keep cutting the deficit so we can afford to do that.”

These latest announcements suggest that workers’ pay will become a key election battleground.

Last week, Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would raise the national minimum wage to £8 per hour if Labour were to gain power, claiming Britain’s lowest paid workers are suffering a “cost of living crisis”.

Subsequently, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage pledged that his party would abolish income tax altogether for minimum wage workers if it were voted into government.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

So, as Kingfisher hires Veronique Laury to become the (drumroll…) fifth female boss in the FTSE 100, Ana Botin is vacating her post at the top of Santander UK to head the family firm in Spain. She is likely to be replaced here by a man, Nathan Bostock.

The picture’s improving one layer down, where the percentage of Footsie board directors who are women has jumped from 12.6 per cent to 22.2 per cent since 2010. But that does not reflect where the real power lies. Most of the big increase for women has been in non-executive director roles. These are part time positions more about oversight of the board and corporate governance than actually running parts of the business. That, the big, multi-million dollar decisionmaking stuff, is done by executive directors. And they are still nearly all men.

Figures from the Board Watch lobbying group show that, while 26.9 per cent of FTSE 100 non-execs are now women (up from 15.6 per cent), they still make up only 6.9 per cent of executive directors. Worse still, that figure for executives has barely moved from the 5.5 per cent of 2010.

The numbers are far worse in the FTSE 250 where the media and politicians don’t tend to harangue the chairman as much as those in the premier league. There, only 5 per cent of executive directors are women.

 

Posted by: Jade Sweeney

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