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Obesity soon to be classed as a disability in Europe

Following a European court judgement last week, employers may soon have to provide overweight staff with priority parking, larger office chairs and lifts to help them up stairs.

Chief legal adviser to the European Court of Justice, Niilo Jaaskinen, said it was ‘unlawful’ to discriminate against a person if their weight affects their work as they should technically be classed as disabled. According to Niilo ‘extreme, severe and morbid obesity’ prevents staff from ‘participation in professional life’. The whole ordeal follows on from a case in Denmark in which a Danish childminder who was dismissed by the local council in 2010 after reportedly being unable to tie his own shoelaces, the dane weighed in at 25 stone at the time. A final judgment will be assessed in the coming months but this case will surely have a lot of people taking sides. It will likely affect anyone classed as severely, or morbidly obese under the Equality Act 2010. If the judgement is passed, then bosses would not be allowed to treat overweight staff less favourably. What employers must be careful of is the way that they approach the matter with current employers and not jump to conclusions about the needs of overweight workers. Currently in the UK, over 64% of adults are classified as overweight or obese. It is also estimated that obesity costs the NHS £5bn every year. Finally, trends suggest that if the UK keeps moving in the same direction, nearly half of the UK population will be severely overweight by 2050.

Job vacancy growth hits 15 year high

Sales professionalsThe rate of growth in job vacancies this November was the fastest seen in 15 years, according to the latest survey from the body that represents recruitment firms and HR professionals. Salary growth is also healthy – at a six year high.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) says its job vacancies index, which uses data from 400 recruitment firms, rose to the highest level since July 1998. All four regions (North, South, Midlands, London) have seen job vacancy growth, with the Midlands leading the field with the fastest growth. The strongest demand was for engineers, followed by nursing staff and other medical and care workers. Construction workers were the least in demand.

REC CEO Kevin Green said: “We enter the New Year with job vacancies increasing at the fastest pace in 15 years. The fact that our figures show starting salary growth hitting a six year high, combined with continued skill and talent shortages, indicates that we can expect salaries to increase and job fluidity to accelerate into 2014.”

“REC UK Report on Jobs shows that all sectors, all regions and both the private and public sector are in growth, which is fantastic news for British businesses, the UK economy and people looking for work in 2014.”
» Read more: Job vacancy growth hits 15 year high

Stress affected almost 5 million UK workers last year

Coping with rejection letters byStress is still a major problem across the British workforce, and a big issue for HR professionals to manage, according to new research. A massive 5 million workers, or one in six UK employees, have called in sick due to stress in the last year, says research from pensions provider Friends Life. So which are the most stressed employees?

It seems that young employees are most stressed about the possibility of redundancy, with 36% saying they were worried about losing their job. In addition, young people are worried about money (35%) and work (22%). This reflects the situation many young workers face. Five years of recession, pay freezes, the rising cost of living and job insecurity are simply part of everyday life for most working people today. And these issues are often the root cause of stress.

The research found men are more likely to be stressed due to work than women, with 31% of men saying work causes them the most stress, compared to 23% of women. David Williams, who is director of group protection at Friends Life, says: “UK economic output is improving but this is not having as positive an effect on UK workers’ stress levels as we would have hoped.”
» Read more: Stress affected almost 5 million UK workers last year

Record number of apprenticeships for 2012/13

Apprenticeships cropApprenticeships have really taken off in recent years with a record number of British people – nearly 860,000 – known to be taking part in an apprenticeship in 2012/13, according to new figures.

This was almost 370,000 more than three years ago, according to statistics released by the Skills Funding Agency. The number of participants in higher apprenticeships also increased by 50,000 this year.

Since 2010, over 1.5 million people have signed up for an apprenticeship place. However there was a slight drop in the number of apprenticeship starts in 2012/13 at 495,100, compared to 520,600 in 2011/12.

Skills minister Matthew Hancock hailed these figures, saying: “This is good news for the economy, and good news for those getting the skills they need to prosper. There are now more options than ever before with a focus on the quality and rigour that people and employers want from apprenticeships.”
» Read more: Record number of apprenticeships for 2012/13

Job prospects highest for six years

We're Hiring SignHere’s some good news for jobseekers in the UK, and for those working in HR resourcing and recruitment.

Job prospects for the final quarter of this year look their brightest for six years, a study has found. Jobs are being created in engineering, finance, business services and green energy. In fact every sector apart from construction are hiring more people than they’re firing.

According to a quarterly survey of 2,100 companies by Manpower Group, employers expect to increase staff in every sector except construction, strongest hiring plans were in northwest and eastern England.

These findings echo other recent surveys suggesting that vacancies are rising, increasing hopes that the economic recovery will eventually be felt in the UK jobs market.

The ManpowerGroup survey showed a net employment outlook of plus six per cent, meaning that more employers are planning to recruit than to reduce their workforces.
» Read more: Job prospects highest for six years

What’s happening at the HR Directors Business Summit 2014?

ICC BirminghamSo what will be the central theme of the next HR Business Director’s Summit, which will take place at the ICC Birmingham on February 4th and 5th, 2014? The event, hosted by WTG Corporate, aims to tackle how organizations should be developing people-focused business strategies. This is about driving business performance through the effective alignment of leadership, talent and organisational development.

Areas being discussed include ‘the new HR function’, engaging and enabling employees, social HR, the latest reward innovations, and driving leadership.

Those attending will learn from leading HR experts and senior business leaders from Alliance Boots, Carlsberg, Canon, Facebook, Fujitsu, Phillips Lighting, Warburtons and more. Typically over 1,000 HR professionals attend the Summit, so this is a really worthwhile networking opportunity.
» Read more: What’s happening at the HR Directors Business Summit 2014?

Apps that make your working day in HR easier

hero_evernoteSmartphones and tablets have already revolutionized our lives – allowing us to shop on the go, apply for jobs, take and send photos and video clips, email from the beach, and instantly access maps just when we need them.

A recent British survey found that we spend roughly 23 days a year looking at our phones. They really are a part of our lives, so it makes sense to try and use them to improve our productivity - rather than holding us back from getting things done.

New apps are coming to market all the time, and many of them can be used to make everyday life more manageable. HR professionals will be interested in the selection below – we hope they make your working day run more smoothly:

Genius Scan + PDF Scanner
» Read more: Apps that make your working day in HR easier

I’ve tailored my CVs so why no HR job interviews?

CV and keyboard imageIt’s well known – especially in HR circles - that job applicants should tailor their CVs or online applications to each specific job as described by the recruiter, rather than send generic details about themselves. But increasingly – as more and more people apply for each advertised vacancy – HR job hopefuls find that even this isn’t working in their favour.

As one frustrated jobseeker says on a forum: “Every application I submit includes a specifically tailored CV or application form. Even though I very carefully stick to the requirements of the job description and highlight successes to demonstrate my abilities and experience, I’ve yet to be offered an interview.”

Not getting to the interview stage – when all that effort has been put into an application – can be soul destroying. So what should be done, to increase your chances of getting invited to an HR job interview?
» Read more: I’ve tailored my CVs so why no HR job interviews?

How hobbies can help you land your dream job in HR

Canoeing hobbies

By Heidi Nicholson

Opinions are divided on whether there is any purpose to the “interests” section of a CV. The traditional view is that your hobbies and pastimes show something of you as a person and demonstrate how rounded you are. The contrary view is that including these only wastes precious space on your CV, especially if they bear no relevance to your ability to do the job in question. Furthermore, you also run the risk of alienating someone who does not share your interests – and believe you me, I’ve seen it happen.

My own view is that you should not automatically insert an interests section on your CV. While showing you have interests beyond studying may be important for a recent school leaver or graduate, this has less relevance as your career progresses. Certainly, showing you are a rounded person will have little impact if you are missing some key competency for the job you are applying for.

Furthermore, the ill-considered inclusion of things that you think make you sound interesting may of course work against you. A number of humorous articles appear on the internet offering alternative readings of just about any hobby or interest you may list. To give you a flavour, some commonly cited ones include:

• Wine: may frequently come to work hung over.

• Travel: only interested in the annual leave allowance.

• Dangerous sports: could take a lot of sick days owing to injury.

I could go on but I am sure you get the picture.
» Read more: How hobbies can help you land your dream job in HR

How can HR cope with high volumes of job candidates?

War for talentWith the UK population projected to increase by half a million people over the next 12 months, the number of jobs being created may fail to keep pace with the population growth. HR departments are likely to see applications per advertised post reach new highs, and this puts pressure on the selection process.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD Labour Market Adviser says more people will be chasing jobs and at the same time the shift towards online recruitment means a greater pool of applicants to trawl through. “This may lead to even more applicants for employers to consider for each vacancy in the future,” says Davies. “It is very tempting for employers to feel overwhelmed by such a high volume of applicants and to set a high bar for their needs today.”

His advice is that employers should see it as an opportunity to draw on a wider pool of talent for their needs tomorrow to help address skills shortages and improve their talent pipelines.
» Read more: How can HR cope with high volumes of job candidates?