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New paternity leave scheme announced

New rights for fathers to take up to six months’ paternity leave has been announced by the government.

The scheme which comes into force from April 2011 gives new dad’s three months paid leave and the time off can be taken during the second half of a baby’s first year, if the mother returns to work.

The plans outlined by Gordon Brown in September said they were about “giving couples more freedom, dads more rights and children more time with the two people who love them most”.

At present dads are entitled to two weeks’ paid leave and mothers to 52, 39 of which are paid.

However the Government says take-up is likely to be low, with less than one in 16 fathers expected to leave work for a period of full-time childcare and ministers are reassuring small businesses that the impact will be minimal with less than one per cent expected to be affected by the changes.

But the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) are reported by the Daily Telegraph to have written to ministers about what they said was one of eight extra costs due to come in next year, demanding an end to the “constant threat of tinkering to employment law” and calling for a three-year moratorium on changes while firms dealt with the economic downturn.

Source : Yahoo News.

Talk to staff to get new HR ideas, says Tesco’s HRD

HR directors have been advised not to look to their competitors to benchmark HR ideas, but to look inside their own organisations

Speaking at the European HR Directors’ Business Summit in Birmingham yesterday, Therese Procter, HR director at Tesco, told delegates: “Rather than look to our competition we look inside our own organisation. In the same way we talk to our customers about what they want to see from Tesco, we never stop talking to our staff.”

Debating what is needed from HR directors to succeed in 2010, Proctor was joined on stage by Harvey Francis, executive vice-president of HR at Skanska, and Paul Kennedy, HR director at shoe manufacturer New Balance.

Procter added: “As an HR director, you have to innovate for anything that might happen. You can never afford to stop innovating. We have new ideas the business can’t afford, but as an HRD you can’t afford not to keep pushing boundaries – even when it doesn’t always make sense.”

Moving to the idea of reward in the recession, she added: “Reward is only one element of work. Employees feel good about doing things for each other and the community, they want a manager who can help them, trust, respect and a job that is interesting.”

Francis agreed. “Reward is both motivational and a hygiene factor. We had a pay freeze in 2009 but gave our staff Christmas Eve off – and I received so many letters of gratitude about the extra holiday.”

And as HR budgets are cut across the board, the panel agreed training should not take the brunt of these cuts in 2010.

Kennedy explained at New Balance financial resources had been moved into training and the company had saved money from using more online training initiatives.

Procter said: “We are committed to not cut training budgets and our chief executive, Terry Leahy, is supportive of training, but if you have an MD who does not understand training, it will be under attack. You have to prove the value and return on investment – then you have a credible case.”

Francis explained: “We have made a small cut in our training budget – but only to make the scheme more efficient.”

Source :  HR Magazine

KFC to look at social networking sites in development of its recruitment strategy

KFC is investigating the use of social networking sites for recruiting staff in a bid to further develop its hiring strategy.

The restaurant began developing its new in-house recruitment strategy in 2007 with a view that, by 2011, it would be a key differentiator against its competitors.

Prior to taking recruitment in-house, the firm had 23 recruitment agencies in the UK alone. KFC launched its online recruitment platform in 2009.

Speaking yesterday at the European HR Directors’ Business Summit in Birmingham, Misty Reich, vice-president, HR UK and Ireland at KFC, said: “Our career site is about brand-building and our focus this year will be to hone and refine the people we want for our business.”

“We have dipped our toe in social media. In the past two months we have had 11 applications on Twitter, we also support blogs and we have a Facebook site. We haven’t recruited a candidate this way just yet though.”

Since the launch of the recruitment website in mid-2009 KFC has received 110,000 online applications on its recruitment site and has seen the cost-per-hire reduce from £1,367 to £403.

Applicants who use the site can apply straightaway, taking part in a behavioural screening test. Less than 50% pass the test. They are then kept up to date with the progress of the application if successful or given careers advice by email if not.

Reich added: “Recession is driving companies to take their recruitment in-house. The right technology is key. Avoid risk – get on board before your competitors do.”

Source : HR Magazine

ITV rethinks benefits package to boost employee engagement

ITV is revamping its employee benefits provision in April in an attempt to increase staff engagement levels following 400 redundancies in 2009.

 The company is poised to launch salary-sacrifice benefits, including a cycle to work scheme and childcare vouchers from April as well as reducing prices in its staff canteen as part of a plan to engage staff at low cost.

In March 2009, The Guardian reported the television channel’s profits had slumped by 41% as it was forced to compete with 450 other UK-based television channels for advertising revenue at the height of recession.

Speaking yesterday morning at the European HR Directors’ Summit in Birmingham, ITV’s group HR director, Andy Doyle, said: “The only thing we knew for 2009 was that it was going to be hard. We delayed decision-making but in the end we had to press the reset button.

“We only employ 4,000 so when we made 400 redundant, no part of the business was untouched. My HR team is 40% smaller than it was last year.” But he added: “We did it the right way, in outplacement; we worked to find out what was important for staff. I have to say, JobcentrePlus really helped sort some staff out with funded training opportunities.”

But the idea of an upturn and a potential end to the recession brought with it a new set of challenges for Doyle and his team.

He explained: “Now the market is a bit livelier – my challenge is not to sound like the HR police. Education of line managers is now a big thing for us and I have to do this with a 40% smaller team. A third of our senior management went last year and we need to develop new managers.

“Also last year we scared the living daylights out of staff and people are still considering leaving. It is hard to engage staff but we are still on a journey to do this.”

As well as the additional perks and revamp of the staff canteen, the company is investing in refurbishing its reception and simplifying its payroll system.

Doyle reports that in the most recent engagement survey at the start of 2010, engagement levels among staff were equal to those before the start of the recession.

He added: “There is no master plan – no silver bullet. I am just an HR guy who tries to get on with stuff – I am no great thinker.

“We made some really difficult decisions last year. But 91% of the UK has watched an ITV programme in the past week.  ITV brings families together and creates a shared experience. Our customers love us and our people have done more creative things than we ever thought about. Those things have stuck.”

Doyle concluded: “We want engagement scores to rise further. But although it is a tough year, we have to keep smiling. We have been here before.”

Source : HR Magazine

Debt-ridden workers will throw sickies this week

Hundreds of thousands of debt-ridden workers will call in sick due to the January wage stretch, according to the Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP).

As the third week of January is the most financially difficult time of the year, the IPP says many employees will be absent from work as they unable to afford to travel to the office.

Lindsay Melvin, chief executive of the IPP, says: “We foresee the third week of January as one of the busiest times for people to pull ‘sickies’. One primary cause could be that it has become the accepted norm for thousands of companies to pay staff before Christmas so they can enjoy the festive period.

“For the many workers who find it difficult to budget and overspent during the Christmas season, this week is going to be problematic. In these cases, employees may find that they cannot afford to transport themselves to work. Employers should be aware of this possibility and put in place contingency plans to deal with a rise in absenteeism.”

Source : Recruiter.

Should employers have to pay staff who didn’t attend work in the snow?

The recent bad weather has meant that many people have failed to get to work due to school closures and travel difficulties. One question on the minds of many employers is do they have to pay employees who didn’t attend work

Generally, if the place of work is open for business, then employers do not have to pay the employees who do not attend work due to travel difficulties or bad weather.

The employer should also ask themselves whether the employee could have made it to work with some difficulty – but chose not to, or whether they were truly snowed in and unable to attend!  The employer must, however, revert to their contract of employment, as there can be contractual provisions about withholding pay.

Aside from the legal issues about pay, there are a number of other matters to consider:


  • Consider balancing your legal obligations to staff, with encouraging good work relations, morale and maintaining health and safety
  • Be aware that if you made the choice to close the business due to the snow, employees will be entitled to receive full pay unless the contract contains a temporary lay off clause – allowing employees to be laid off without pay
  • Be careful about forcing employees to take a day’s holiday – employers cannot force employees to use their holidays without consent, unless the contract of employment specifically allows it
  • Dealing with employees that phoned in sick during the snowy period will be a difficult issue. Sickness absences of staff can be dealt with by sickness absence management procedures and return to work interviews, which often deter employees taking the odd day off!
  • Be considerate of the reasons staff were absent during the bad weather – those with childcare responsibilities must not be treated less favourably than their colleagues without such responsibilities, although emergency leave to care for children is generally unpaid, unless a contract states otherwise.

Source : HR Magazine

124 million working hours lost because of snow

Britain lost up to 124 million working hours last week as 74% of the British workforce were affected by snow chaos.

As the snow returned to the UK this morning, according to a report by Citrix GoToMyPC and YouGov, 45% of employees were affected by travel disruption last week.
Some employees were also forced to stay at home due to school closures (8%) and 11% of workers had to postpone or cancel business meetings.  

Despite the difficult conditions, almost half (48%) of British workers felt under pressure to get to work and maintain ‘business as usual’, 11% couldn’t get to work but worked from home, while 12% were not able to work at all.

Andrew Millard, director of eCommerce, EMEA for Citrix Online’s GoToMyPC, said: “The weather seen in the first week of 2010 had a catastrophic effect on employees and businesses throughout the country, with millions of pounds lost and productivity severely hindered. In severe weather, being equipped with a virtual office that provides a ‘just like being there experience’ is the best insurance for businesses.

“Having collaboration and remote access tools is not only the ultimate ‘quality of work’ improvement, but the cornerstone of an effective business continuity plan that mitigates the devastating impact of lost productivity.”

Source : HR Magazine


Government to publish guidance on employees’ right to request training

The Government has published guidance to inform employers about the new right for employees to request time for training.

The guidance for employers is being made available through Business Link and is to be published 12 weeks before the right comes in on 6 April 2010.

Guidance is also available today on the DirectGov website to inform employees about how they make a request under this new right.

Skills minister Kevin Brennan, said: “Now, more than ever, we need learning and training opportunities in place that empower people to gain the skills and training they need to get on.

“Many businesses and organisations are really good at training their staff and already recognise the benefits of having a highly skilled and motivated workforce. While two-thirds of businesses do train their staff, we need to encourage employers and employees who do not to speak about training opportunities.”

The right to request time to train was included in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act, which received Royal Assent in November 2009.

The introduction of the right will be phased and will be made available to employees in organisations with 250 or more employees from April 2010 before being extended to all employees from April 2011. This will give smaller organisations and businesses more time to prepare for its introduction..

Commenting on the release of the guidance, John Castledine, director of learning solutions at the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), said:  “We welcome this guidance, published today, and hope this new right will open up many more opportunities for employees to access vital leadership and management training and, as a result, improve business efficiency across the UK.

“It is crucial that employers are encouraged to offer suitable training and development for all staff members. We now want to see a campaign in place that not only compels employers to ensure that training and development provision is fit-for-purpose, but also raises awareness among employees of their legal right to training and the many benefits of undertaking workplace development.

“Organisations that promote and provide these development opportunities to their staff stand to gain a more loyal, engaged and productive workforce.”

Source : HR Magazine.

Fujitsu strike over pay, conditions and pensions continues

Today marks the fourth of strike action at IT services company Fujitsu over a pay freeze, redundancies and the proposed closure of the final salary pension scheme.


According to trade union Unite, 75% of members voted for industrial action and 92% voting for action short of a strike in November. A one day strike has already taken place on 18  December.

Unite reports the strike is over proposals for 1,000 redundancies in the UK, a pay freeze imposed last year, and plans by the company to close the main final salary pension scheme to future accrual, reducing the total pay package of each affected employee by as much as 20%.

Peter Skyte, Unite national officer, said: “Whilst we remain ready and willing to talk at any time, Fujitsu remains a highly profitable company but has to date shown little willingness to seriously address the underlying issues of jobs, pay and pensions.


“Other IT companies are dealing with similar issues in a much more constructive way and the approach taken by Fujitsu to date treats its highly skilled workforce as a disposable commodity rather than its most important asset.”

But a spokesman from Fujitsu said: ”Fujitsu is disappointed that the Unite trades union has decided to continue to take industrial action whilst consultation continues with the elected employee representatives on the proposed changes to the pension scheme. Fujitsu has taken prudent measures to ensure that service to its customers is maintained.”

Fujitsu Services continues to make substantial profits, with £200 million profit before taxation in 2008, while the parent company is cash rich, having raised over $900 million from a share sale. Announcing the latest results on 28 October last year, the Fujitsu president highlighted that for the first half of the year, the company beat its earnings target despite a very challenging business environment.

Fujitsu employs around 11,500 people in the UK. Fujitsu’s main sites are at Bracknell, Stevenage, Manchester, Crewe, Belfast, Staines, Basingstoke, Wakefield, Sheffield, Solihull, Telford, Swansea, Slough, Lewes, Warrington, Cardiff, Londonderry, Bristol, Newcastle and London.

Source : HR Magazine

Snow day skiving for half of British workers

Half of British workers surveyed by online courier matchmaking service have exploited the recent cold snap to skive off work.

The survey of 1,029 people found that 49% of respondents used the snow as an excuse to have time off, citing issues such as problems with transport when they could in fact have made it in to work.

Over a third (36%) said they had taken more than one day off last week using transport issues as an excuse when they could have otherwise travelled into work.

Source : Recruiter