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Employees still face an uncertain future in 2013, as UK businesses are increasingly unsure if they will need to make redundancies over the next six months.

According to a survey of 783 UK businesses by Right Management, around one in twelve UK employers (8%) are uncertain if they will need to make redundancies in the next six months. This figure has risen by six percentage points in the last six months, up from just 2% in 2012.

The survey also reveals a slight drop in those reporting they will make no layoffs at all; 77% of employers feel they will make no layoffs at all in the first six months of 2013, down from 81% in 2012. However, this is a higher figure than the global average of 69%, and no employers reported they would make significantly more layoffs (down from 4% in 2012).

Only 22% of UK employers believe their companies are very effective at redeploying employees rather than making redundancies. This is a global problem, almost three in ten employers believe their organisations are “not too effective” or “not at all effective” at redeployment.

The CBI has published its analysis of the impact of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWRs) a year after they came into force, in which it describes the regulations as a 'drag on job creation in this vital sector.'

The CBI has identified a number of priorities for the upcoming Government review of the regulations, which include:

  • Streamlining the highly complex definition of pay to allow for easier comparison.
  • Simplifying the 12-week qualification period so that those on short-term assignments aren’t needlessly caught up in the regulations.
  • Removing gold-plating where the regulations specifically go beyond that required by the directive and UK implementation agreement.
  • Stripping out the perverse incentive in the regulations to lodge opportunistic tribunal claims.

Key statistics about the agency sector in the UK include:

  • CBI research has shown that 57% of firms that use temps have reduced their use as a result of the regulations, 3% have increased their use, while 8% have stopped using temps all together.
  • TEAM research found that 38% of agencies reported a decline in assignments as a result of the regulations, and 18% reported an increase.
  • The same survey found that 62% of agencies reported a negative experience of the regulations.
  • BIS research prior to the implementation of the regulations showed that agency workers received, on average, 96% of the pay of comparable employees.

New research from global insurer Zurich shows that over two thirds (70%) of British SME decision makers want the government to focus on cutting red tape. This ranks more highly than improving access to finance (54%) and reviewing employment legislation (36%) in the list of top three SME priorities.

This desire for cutting red tape rises to 76% amongst SMEs in the North of England and 74% in the Midlands. In London this figure is 60%, which while below average, still ranks as their top priority. Manufacturing SMEs put the greatest emphasis on the reduction of red tape (86%) with construction (75%) and financial services (67%) companies closely following.

When senior SME decision makers were asked to rank their top three regulatory challenges, employment regulations topped the list (37%), followed by health and safety (28%) and pensions (21%). The concern with employment regulations is also reiterated by the fact almost one in five (17%) small businesses view employment tribunals and legal proceedings as a top business threat.

UK businesses are being hindered by a lack of effective sickness absence management, despite over half (53%) of employers believing they’re well equipped to deal with long-term absence, according to a new Aviva report.

Aviva’s annual absence management report reveals the immediate impact an absent employee can have on the workplace if adequate support isn’t in place:

  • 40% of employers say someone else has to pick up the work,
  • 27% say productivity falls,
  • nearly a quarter (22%) believe it impacts the business financially, and
  • 21% say service standards suffer.

Furthermore, the report reveals that 17% of employers are seeing other members of staff go off sick when their colleagues are off long-term.
There is some evidence that employers understand the benefit of early intervention in sickness management, with one in five (20%) providing staff training to help them spot the signs of stress. However, over a third of employers (34%) still rely on employees to tell them when they are unwell.  

One in three (32%) employees have taken or forwarded confidential information out of the office on more than one occasion, according to a recent survey commissioned by information management company, Iron Mountain.

The survey discovered that half (51%) of European office workers who take information from their current employer when they switch jobs – 44% of those in the UK – are helping themselves to confidential customer databases, despite data protection laws and records management policies forbidding them to do so.

The study found that employees who resign don’t generally take information out of malice; they do so because they feel a sense of ownership or believe it will be useful in their next role. Two thirds said they had taken or would take information they had been involved in creating, and 72% said they believed the information would be helpful in their new job.

The picture changes, however, when employees lose their job. The study revealed that as many as one in three office workers would deliberately remove and share confidential information if they were fired.

The study suggested that a lack of appropriate information management policies or their ineffective implementation could be a powerful factor in information loss. Only around half of respondents said it was always clear when information was confidential, and a third said they were not aware of any company guidelines regarding what information could or could not be removed from the office.

The Office for National Statistics has published its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, which is based on a 1% sample of employee jobs.

Key points include:

  • In April 2011 median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were £498.
  • For men, full-time earnings were £538, compared with £440 for women.
  • Median gross weekly earnings for all employees were £400.
  • Median gross annual earnings for full-time employees (including those whose pay was affectedby absence) were £26,100.
  • Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were highest in London at £649 and lowest in Northern Ireland at £446.
  • There were 297 thousand jobs paid below the National Minimum Wage held by people aged 16 and over, which constitutes 1.2% of all employee jobs in the labour market.

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