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Shining a light on top public sector salaries

Will Hutton was asked by the prime minister and chancellor last May to make recommendations that would promote greater fairness in public sector pay, by “tackling disparities between the lowest and highest paid in public sector organisations”. This story from the BBC.

The executive vice chair of the Work Foundation was recruited to look at whether limiting the pay of top public servants to a maximum multiple of typical or median public service pay would be a good idea, and if so whether a multiple of 20 would be appropriate.

Strikingly, Mr Hutton – a campaigner over many years for a more egalitarian distribution of income – has come down against the imposition of any cap on pay in public services.

Has he had some kind of Damascene conversion to the idea that an increase in public-sector productivity requires the entrenchment of a new plutocratic class of bureaucrats?

Actually it doesn’t look as though he is panting to push up the remuneration of permanent secretaries, local authority chief executives, and senior health service managers.

Read the full story.

ASDA to support their mum-to-be employees

Asda has launched a mentoring initiative for female staff on maternity leave, as part of efforts to support them to return to the workplace.

The ‘Mum2Mum’ scheme will assign each mother-to-be a mentor from the business, another working mother who will give support to them over a 12-month period. Each member of the programme will have 2-3 face-to-face mentoring sessions in the three months before going on leave, remote contact by e-mail and phone while they are on leave, and another series of mentoring sessions in the first 6-9 months after returning to work.

“This is an innovative and cost effective way to share learning and support for women returners,” said an Asda spokesman. “The Mum2Mum scheme was created to counteract the dips in confidence and motivation while on maternity leave.”

The scheme will help keep talented women in the business by supporting their smoother re-entry to the workforce, and will increase the value that returning mothers can add to the business at the same time as boosting the employer brand, says Asda.

The initiative was launched to coincide with International Women’s Day. Employees at Asda’s Leeds head office celebrated the 100th year of International Women’s Day with an event featuring high-profile female speakers and individual coaching sessions.

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Private sector pay freeze

One in 10 private sector companies are still freezing staff pay despite the cost of living reaching a two-year high, new figures have revealed. This report from the Telegraph.

The majority of employers are also failing to offer wage rises anywhere close to the level of inflation, the latest analysis of private sector deals from has found.

The typical pay award rose to 2.8pc in the three months to January, according to IDS, up from 2.2pc in the quarter to December. Consumer Prices Index inflation stood at 4pc in January.

However, less than a quarter of employers offered pay increases at 4pc or above, with 10pc still pushing through pay freezes, the figures showed.

Mark Dampier, head of research at financial consultancy Hargreaves Lansdown, said employers were under virtually no pressure to increase wages at a time when unemployment was rising.

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Changes to employment law in 2011

Recruitment consultancy IntaPeople lists the key employment law changes of 2011 and the dates they are expected to come into force – essential for any human resources professional, line manager or business owner keen to keep up with the looming changes, reports the Telegraph.

April 3

– Fathers can claim up to six months’ of the mother’s maternity leave provided she returns to work, under new Additional Paternity Leave arrangements. The new right is granted to fathers of children due on or after 3 April 2011. The extra leave is in addition to the current two weeks’ paternity leave entitlement.

There are a few more changes to be implemented in April this year. To find out more, visit the original article.

EU ruling cuts men’s pensions

Hundreds of thousands of middle class men will see their retirement income drop by hundreds of pounds a year following a ruling by the European Union, reports the Telegraph.

European judges decided yesterday that companies can no longer use gender to calculate the rates offered on annuities, which are used to convert pension pots into an annual income.

Men are not expected to live as long as women and so currently receive higher rates, giving them a larger income to enjoy during their retirement.

But these deals will now be brought in line with the lower rates offered to women, meaning men will lose out on around £300 of retirement income a year, experts warned.

It is forecast that at least 360,000 men a year will suffer a financial loss as a result of the decision. This calculation is based on some 450,000 people buying an annuity every year, of which four fifths are purchased by men.

Darren Philp, a director at the National Association of Pension Funds, said: “We are disappointed with decision as it will lead to a worsening of people’s pension incomes.

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New private pension options

A flexible small business pension scheme will launch this week that will cost highly paid employees the same to run as the Government-backed option, reports the Telegraph.

The private scheme, provided by Towergate Financial and HSBC, will charge employees paying £300 a month into their pension a 0.5pc annual management charge and provide a wide range of investment options and services.

David Taylor, managing director of Towergate Financial, said he expected many small businesses to begin thinking about new pension regulations from next year ahead of new rules requiring all employers to provide a pension to staff and also make a financial contribution.

“This is positioned at slightly higher salaried employees,” he said.

The regulations are being phased in from next year, with companies with 350 or more staff affected from 2013 and smaller companies facing the obligation from October 2014.

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