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Employers want to keep default retirement age of 65

Almost three quarters of employers do not think the default retirement age of 65, should be removed.

The High Court ruling on default retirement is expected later today, but according to a survey of senior managers and HR staff by Eversheds, 73% want to keep the option to enforce retirement in place and only 24% “usually” accept requests from staff to work beyond retirement age.

More than two thirds of employers (68%) consider requests on an individual basis and 8% “usually” decline requests to work beyond 65.

More than three out of 10 employers surveyed (31%) are worried about the capacity of some staff to work beyond 65.

Earlier in summer, the Department for Work and Pensions announced that it was bringing forward its review of the retirement age by twelve months to 2010.

Owen Warnock, employment law partner at Eversheds, said:  “The UK’s decision to retain a fixed retirement age was in response to overwhelming feedback from employers when the legislation was being drawn up. Our research shows that this view hasn’t changed, but it is significant that very few employers view the default retirement age as compulsory. Instead the majority either take time to consider the request or automatically accept requests from those that are keen to continue.

“While most of Western Europe and the US have abolished a default retirement age, they do have some room for manoeuvre. In the US, employers can address performance issues with older workers very easily as there is no protection against unfair dismissal, while pension provision is so generous in many Western Europe countries that people are less incentivised to continue working.

“In our experience, the vast majority of UK employers understand the benefits of a varied workforce and a number of respondents specifically highlighted the value of the experience that older workers bring to a team. Rather than forcing people out of work, employers seem to view it as a backstop to allow for workforce planning and dealing with issues of poor performance. Employers will be watching the outcome of the Heyday decision very closely, with some fearing an increase in age-related discrimination claims due to the lack of clarity it would create if the fixed retirement age is ruled unlawful.”

Source : HR Magazine


New CIPD Internship Charter raises the bar for both jobseekers and employers

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) today launches the Internship Charter – a voluntary code of practice aimed at improving the quality of schemes – to support jobseekers, particularly graduates, and employers during these difficult economic times.

Given the commitment from the Government and business community to expand internships, the Charter is designed to encourage best practice and to ensure that increasing the quantity of work placements on offer does not reduce the quality of placements.

Tom Richmond, CIPD Skills Advisor says:

“Our Internship Charter will offer organisations a way to provide interns with a genuine and worthwhile experience that enhances their skills and their overall employability, which will have important knock-on effects for UK businesses and the overall jobs market.

“There are many potential benefits for businesses of all sizes but only if it is of sufficient quality. Key skills like team working and project management are best developed in the workplace, which is why internships can be rewarding for both individual and employers. During these difficult times it is right for government to encourage organisations to offer internships, but we believe that our new code of practice should be adhered to, especially if interns are working for no salary.”

The Internship Charter’s six principles are set out below:

1. Recruitment – Interns should be recruited in broadly the same way as regular employees of an organisation, with proper consideration given to how their skills and qualifications fit with the tasks they will be expected to fulfil. Recruitment should be conducted in an open and rigorous way to enable fair and equal access to available internships. The job advertisement should give a clear indication of how long the internship will last, and at interview, the intern should be told honestly whether there is a real chance of obtaining a full-time contract.

2. Induction – Interns should receive a proper induction to the organisation they enter to allow them to fully integrate. Whether joining a large organisation, or an SME, an Intern just entering the job market may find the workplace intimidating. It is important to introduce an intern to the staff and the values of the organisation to help them integrate into the team, and allow them to hit the ground running.

3. Supervision – Organisations should ensure there is a dedicated person(s) who has ring-fenced time in their work schedule to supervise the intern and conduct regular performance reviews. This person should provide ongoing feedback to the intern, be their advocate and mentor during the period of internship, and conduct a formal performance review to evaluate the success of their time with the organisation.

4. Treatment – During their time with an organisation interns should be treated with exactly the same degree of professionalism and duty of care as regular employees. They should not be seen as ‘visitors’ to the organisation, or automatically assigned routine tasks that do not make use of their skills. Organisations should make some allowance for interns to, on occasion, attend job interviews or complete study requirements.

5. Payment and Duration – As a bare minimum the organisation should cover any necessary work-related expenses incurred by the intern. This includes travel to and from work, and any travel costs incurred whilst attending external meetings/events. If an internship is unpaid and provides only expenses, then the internship should be no longer than four months.

6. Certification/Reference and Feedback – On completion of their internship organisations should provide interns with a certificate/reference letter detailing the work they have undertaken, the skills and experience acquired, and the content of the formal performance review conducted at the end of the internship. Interns should also be offered the opportunity to give feedback on their experience in an ‘exit interview’, giving organisations the opportunity to reflect on its own performance in delivering internships.

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HR urges tax breaks for hiring jobless

HR professionals have backed calls for tax breaks to be given to businesses hiring the long-term unemployed.

As unemployment reached 2.47 million last week, a survey of 500 finance directors by law firm Grant Thornton revealed that 59% supported plans to offer workers a year’s holiday from paying national insurance contributions when hiring people who have been out of work for more than 12 months.

Sandy Begbie, executive HR director at Aegon UK, told Personnel Today: “It is clear there are risks associated with the recruitment of the long-term unemployed, and as such there should be some incentive for employers to recruit from that population.
“It would encourage employers to recruit the long-term unemployed while also providing employers with the opportunity of giving something back to the community as part of a well-developed corporate responsibility plan.”

Jonathan Cawthra, group resources director of housing association Affinity Sutton, added: “This initiative would create a financial incentive and some headroom that tilts the scales in favour of taking the risk, so I support it.”

While the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) welcomed the proposal, it warned the tax holiday should be closely linked to Local Employment Partnerships and the development of employability skills.

John Philpott, chief economist at the CIPD, said: “The CIPD supports this kind of measure in principle but believes that it could not work as an automatic mechanism but would have to be linked to other measures designed to improve the employability of the long-term unemployed and/or institutions such as Local Employment Partnerships.

“A simple recruitment incentive such as the national insurance holiday is unlikely to have much impact.”

In August, Personnel Today reported the CBI called for the £1,000 subsidy currently offered to those recruiting the long-term unemployed to be stopped and given instead to those hiring the young unemployed.

Survey shows HR managers finding it tough to hold on to graduates

A new survey has revealed that more than two thirds of graduates are likely to leave their jobs as Britain starts ot emerge from the recession.

The poll, of 150 graduates in some of the country’s biggest firms, revealed that 67 per cent would leave their post before completing three years’ service.

Commissioned by the Inspirational Development Group, the survey also asked 65 HR managers/directors across a range of industry sectors, including banking, engineering, public and private their thoughts on employing university-educated workers.

The results revealed that almost half of HR managers said they had problems retaining graduates, with 22% reporting that on average they lose graduates within two years of their employment.

Almost 60% felt that there was more they could do to retain these graduates and three quarters of HR managers said most graduates left the company after less than four years’ service.

The research uncovered the many difficulties HR managers face in measuring the return on investment of graduate schemes.

While some respondents stated that graduate programmes had been scaled down, the majority of HR managers viewed stopping schemes altogether as a mistake that would lead to a disproportionate gap in the talent pipeline amongst new graduates.

A big effect of the recession has been a shift in application patterns, with the financial services seeing a drop-off and public sector organisations, such as the NHS, seeing a massive rise – 7,000 applicants last year compared with 16,000 in 2009.

Hana Searson, Head of Talent Management for IDG, said: “The information we have gathered highlights a lack of measurement in terms of return on investment and a need for companies to get better at identifying the right graduates for their business.

”It seems that many companies view the high turnover of graduates at this crucial two to three year point as inevitable.

“Organisations need to identify potential stars early on in their placements in order to map out clear plans to retain these individuals. It is not all about monetary return – the enthusiasm and fresh-thinking that graduates bring to an organisation is definitely beneficial and can be reaped throughout the duration of the graduate programme, even if individuals decide to leave once this is over. “

INSIDER’S VIEW: Allison Campbell, HR Director, Bacardi Martini UK

Allison Campbell, HR Director – Bacardi Martini Ltd: UK 

Question: Apart from coping with the recessionary climate, what in your view is the most important issue now facing HR and HR practitioners and why?

Allison says

“For some time now, businesses have recognised the critical nature of investing in the right people programmes to give them the best chance of success.

In many businesses the HR function is represented on the Board along with the other business-critical functions which have traditionally had a place of influence, further reinforcing the importance of strong people programmes. Good news, then, when times are good, funding is secure and business is booming.

But what about the situation in the current climate when businesses are scrutinising their activities and analysing those methods which provide the greatest return on investment?

It is critical that the HR function works hand in hand with the remainder of the business apart from the Board to highlight the activities which are appropriate for the present challenges but which also allow for change when circumstances alter and the recession begins to lift.

HR needs to be aligned to the business strategy, challenges and opportunities in order to provide strong guidance and partnership on the activities which need to continue, be deferred, or in some cases, be maximised.

A sound business case, therefore, is critical to ensure that the organisation invests in the right things and ultimately achieves the greatest success via its people.

It is not good enough for the HR function to champion initiatives just because they are generally good practice or are established events. A very clear ROI needs to be aligned to each activity to make it obvious as to the rationale for continuing, changing or deferring practices.

The HR team should to be at the forefront of this process rather than reacting to requests or instructions from the business. That way the team’s influence on the business will be appropriately positioned. Speaking the language of the business is essential in creating the case and influencing the outcome.

We must all examine the value of the initiatives we champion, ensure they are relevant and add value and that they are delivered effectively.

It is also vital to have clear measures of success in place to support the business case and to plan for the future. “

Question source : Andrew Leigh, Maynard Leigh Associates.

It pays to be stylish

It has long been said that first impressions count.
But with rising unemployment and competition for jobs at an all time high, never has what you wear when you walk into an interview been so important.
Indeed, a new survey by senior executive careers site, has revealed that 76 per cent of UK bosses would decide against hiring a candidate because of their interview attire.
A further 37 per cent recently reported not hiring someone because they deemed their clothing inappropriate.
“While an individual’s skills and experience may get them to interview stage, the importance of appearance in influencing that all-important first impression should not be underestimated,” said Steve Leeson, associate director of Morgan McKinley, a British financial recruitment company.
“It’s always a good idea to find out what the dress code is before you go for an interview.”
Although this advice may seem obvious, HR managers say they are consistently flabbergasted by candidates who get it wrong.
Turning up dressed in jeans, with piercings and looking like a punk rocker, for example, is hardly likely to get you a finance job in the city.
With the recession biting designers have been quick to reflect the more sombre and serious economic mood in their collections.
Clothing with a corporate flavour dominated the autumn/winter women’s wear shows, which included a high quota of skirt suits, not to mention a plethora of grey everywhere from Giorgio Armani to Max Mara.
Bespoke tailor Duncan Quinn said that casual style is out and suit sales are rising across his stores in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles. A spokesperson for Ralph Lauren also confirmed that sales of suits are up for the label.
“A friend who works at Citigroup noted that as layoffs were happening during 2008, there was a more sombre tone in what people were wearing,” said Rebecca Matchett of Rebecca & Drew, which specialises in women’s dress shirts tailored to bra size.
“(As a result) we have scaled back our trend-driven items and focused on classic styles.”

HR recruitment continues upward trend despite recession

The Human Resources recruitment market has continued to improve and is bucking the recession, new figures have revealed.
In its latest employment index, Monster reported a one point increase in hiring activity in the sector, from 63 to 64 points.
This follows an 11 per cent increase in the HR recruitment index during July.
Although the news has been positive for the last two months, the fact that the baseline figure is 100 means there is still some way to go before the sector returns to normal.
However Hugo Sellert, head of economic research at Monster Worldwide, believes firms looking to recruit should be able to find the people they need.
He said: “The rising number of unemployed means that businesses have a larger pool of available talent to choose from.
“This increase in ease-of-hiring is in turn contributing to the reduction in advertising of live jobs.”
Recently, Stephanie Bird, director of HR capability at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, suggested that employers will be looking for professionals who have a proven track record in boosting workplace engagement.
Ian Partington, managing director of Simply Jobs Boards, said the HR market was proving to be strong despite the country’s bleak employment and economic condition.
”At Simply we have more than 400 HR jobs on offer at present, a phenomenally high figure given the current climate,” he said.
”People looking to break into or move around in this sector should be optimistic that we can help them secure the career they are looking for.”

Dads ‘to share maternity leave’

New fathers will be able to take six months’ leave under plans to “split” maternity leave, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson is to announce.

The plan would allow mothers to return to work after six months and fathers to stay at home with the baby.

But plans to extend paid maternity leave from nine to 12 months are set to be shelved in an effort to save cash.

A government source said the manifesto “goal” was “under review” but no decision has been taken.

In Labour’s 2005 manifesto, the party said it would extend paid maternity leave to nine months – which it did in 2007 – with the “goal of achieving a year’s paid leave by the end of the Parliament”.

The Guardian reported that aim would not now be implemented before the next election.

Currently fathers can claim up to two weeks’ paid leave, up to eight weeks after their child is born.

Source : BBC News

Firms using Twitter for e-marketing

Firms are increasingly looking to social networking site Twitter as a more economical means of e-marketing, according to Deborah Collier, chief strategist at e-business consultancy Echo E-Business.

Collier says: “Email marketing offers a channel to directly target subscribers, however the return on investment, particularly for smaller businesses, is still fairly low in comparison to other media channels.

The biggest email marketing value for many businesses, particularly in the B2B markets, is in relationship and brand building over a period of time, supporting the overall sales process. Now we have Twitter to do that, and it’s free.

“From restaurant bookings to product launches, Twitter has now become a de facto tool, not only for relationship building, but also sales.

“It’s important to remember, however, that it’s not what tool you use, but also why, how and when to use it. With any strategy it’s important to ensure that you are in the right place at the right time, and that your message is communicated effectively.”

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