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CRC’s Newsletter - Summer 2012
01 July 2012

The summer holidays are here – but it would be easy to imagine we were going in to autumn unfortunately! Let’s hope that the clouds clear for the Olympics anyway – at least that way they won’t need to resort to artificial clouds and rain at the opening ceremony!

If your organisation is being affected by the Olympics don’t forget to check out the helpful guide which ACAS produced – you can find it on their website at www.acas.org.uk. The following updates are offered for your information; if you do require further information the please contact me.

Age discrimination update

In April, under the Equality Act 2010, age discrimination was due to be extended to organisations that provide services. This was likely to cover health, social care and financial services to name but a few. The Home Office are apparently still considering the impact and scope of the exemptions and therefore no further changes will be brought in until October 2012 at the earliest.

Part time women workers - apparently earnmore on average than men. Full time male workers earn on average 11.7% more than their female counterparts the reverse is true for women working part time who earn, on average, 4.8% more than their male equivalents. Haven’t we come a long way since the Equal Pay Act of 1970! Yes that is an astonishing 40+ years ago!

Internships/Work Experience

In today’s extremely competitive jobs market it is probably not surprising to learn of the importance that many employers place on young people’s previous experiences in the workplace either through an internship or via work experience. Many organisations do not pay anything towards work experience which tend to be short placements for young people to gain an insight in to the place of work – it could be via a school work experience scheme, Duke of Edinburgh placement or another method – but is still absolutely vital for any young person who will soon be seeking a career.

Internships are slightly different as they tend to be for longer periods of time – many organisations now only offer them for periods longer than 12 months. In the last 12 months, the number of employers offering internships has increased from 13% to 29% (source: CIPD). Organisations who are considering offering internships to students or recent graduates should be aware of the impact which the National Minimum Wage could have. For example, if an intern is working set hours, contributing to the company, and has a list of duties they should be paid the national minimum wage applicable.

Internships are definitely beneficial to all parties; an employer can assess someone’s ability to carry out the work required, to get along with colleagues, develop someone’s skills – both occupational skills and management skills - in the workplace. For the worker, they get a huge amount of experience and develop new skills which will be directly transferable to any employer in the future. For more information don’t hesitate to contact me.

Focus on … Fit Note

According to the CIPD’s recent absence survey, 131 million working days were lost to sickness absence in 2011 (which equates to 4.5 days per worker). The cost to businesses of sickness absence has not been reduced significantly since the introduction of the fit note.

It perhaps won’t surprise you to learn that the fit note, whilst it has had some impact on reducing sickness absence, is apparently not fulfilling the anticipated reduction in absence, partly because of doctors’ unwillingness to provide information. According to the DWP’s research in to the impact the “fit note” has had, too many GPs were avoiding the option whereby they could get an employee back to work earlier by making suggested changes to the workplace such as fewer hours or amended duties.

In my experience working with clients, I agree that few GPs encourage someone to return to work earlier than they might have done before the introduction of the fit notes. Also, the phased return to work is the most common method by which a doctor will encourage someone back to work.

In another survey (carried out by Engineering Employers Federation) only 10 employers think it has helped their ability to manage absence. However, when an employee does provide a fit note recommending a return to work, remember it is important to meet with the employee to discuss their absence and their return to work requirements. Absence must be managed sensitively and fairly. For further guidance please contact me.

Recruitment – checking credentials. It never fails to surprise me how many organisations don’t bother checking the credentials of new employees regardless of what seniority they are taking on. Recently the CEO of Yahoo! Was forced to resign amid allegations that he had embellished his CV with incorrect details about a science degree. Do you verify candidate’s details? Perhaps you should!

I’ve been busy with new and existing clients, as well as Employment Tribunal work. I have been involved with reviewing job roles and job descriptions and conducting a pay review for two organizations; appraisal training; managing employee conflict; advising on a number of maternity-related issues and what to do when someone leaves suddenly after only a few weeks in the job.

I hope that you’ve found this round-up useful. Any feedback is always gratefully received.

With kind regards for a sunny summer wherever you are!


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