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Pay gaps, the wrong role models, a weak talent pipeline and lack of self-confidence are amongst the biggest challenges holding back female managers, according to Women in Leadership, the Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) first ever White Paper on gender issues.

The paper builds on the results of the National Management Salary Survey, published annually by CMI and XpertHR, which in 2012 showed a lifetime pay gap of over £420,000 between female and male executives.

The White Paper presents a range of practical recommendations, including:

For employers and line managers

  • Measure and report on the proportion of women in your workforce, including at senior levels. Where there is little progress, act on it.
  • Create supportive networks andencourage mentoring opportunitiesfor female managers.
  • Prepare future leaders with the skills they need to do a good job at the top including training, experience and qualifications.
  • Enable women to be wives, mothers and carers by embracing flexible working at all levels.

For Government

  • Require companies who have transgressed to publish aggregated pay data at all levels within the business.
  • Focus on the talent pipeline, not just the boardroom: ensuregreater transparency from employers about the level of female representation at different management levels.
  • Inspire younger women’s career aspirations by integrating management and leadership development into the education and skills system at every level, as recommended by the Heseltine review.

A number of research projects have highlighted the prevalence of bullying in workplaces across Britain and the detrimental effect it can have on those who experience it. A recent study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, has found that the impact of bullying isn’t restricted to the direct victim and their families, but can also be felt by the victim’s colleagues.

Study into bullying

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire conducted a survey to find out how wide ranging the impact of bullying at work could be.

They questioned survey respondents about their experiences of supervisory abuse, vicarious supervisory abuse, job frustration, perceived organisational support, and co-worker abuse. 

Abusive supervision

According to the researchers, abusive supervision is considered a dysfunctional type of leadership and includes a sustained display of hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviours toward subordinates.

“Although the effects of abusive supervision may not be as physically harmful as other types of dysfunctional behavior, such as workplace violence or aggression, the actions are likely to leave longer-lasting wounds,” said Paul Harvey, associate professor of organisational behaviour at UNH, “in part, because abusive supervision can continue for a long time.”

Vicarious supervisory abuse

Vicarious supervisory abuse takes place when abusive bosses negatively impact the work environment for the co-workers of employees that they are bullying. These co-workers suffer from “second-hand” or vicarious abusive supervision, by observing or being aware of a supervisor abusing a co-worker. 

This can happen in a number of different ways, including:

  • an employee hearing rumours of abusive behaviour from co-workers, 
  • reading about such behaviours in an email, 
  • or actually witnessing the abuse of a co-worker. 

The researchers found that first-hand supervisory abuse and second-hand vicarious supervisory abuse can result in similar negative effects, such as:

  • greater job frustration, 
  • a tendency to abuse other co-workers, and 
  • a lack of perceived organisational support.

Unsurprisingly, these effects were found to be intensified if the co-worker was a victim of both kinds of supervisory abuse.

Bullying and harassment in the UK

Bullying and harassment are a relatively common occurrence in Britain’s workplaces. A recent study by Canada Life Group Insurance found that around a quarter of employees have experienced bullying at work. Ten percent of employees reported taking time off as sick leave to avoid bullying, and 11% said they have done so because they say have been treated unfairly by a line manager.

It is important that employers act quickly to resolve any incidences of bullying or harassment in the workplace. Failure to do so could result in stress for the affected employees, higher rates of sickness absence, and ultimately the possibility of an employment tribunal claim.

The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that the total number of cases of stress in 2011/12 was 428,000 (40%) out of a total of 1,073,000 for all work-related illnesses.

The figures also show that the main causes of work related stress were work pressure, lack of managerial support and work-related violence and bullying.


The Government has recently launched a consultation over how the system for shared parental leave and pay will work.

The consultation will look at how the new system will work and fit together with current arrangements for maternity and paternity leave and adopters, as part of the Government’s commitment to create a modern workplace.

This will influence how the Government legislates under the Children and Families Bill 2013, introduced earlier in the year, which includes the proposals for shared parental leave and flexible working.

Business Minister Jo Swinson said:

“Current workplace arrangements for maternity leave are old-fashioned and rigid. Our measures for shared parental leave and flexible working give us a great opportunity to make our workforce even more flexible, help working families and boost economic growth.

“Crucially, these proposals will drive a real cultural shift and help working dads play a greater role in their child’s early months. We want to shatter the perception that it is mainly a woman’s role to stay at home and look after the child, and also that flexible working only has benefits for parents and carers. Employers too can gain from a system which allows them keep talented women in the workforce and have more motivated and productive staff.”

Recent high-profile job losses announced at HMV and Rolls Royce are a reflection of wider sentiment towards job security, with the beginning of 2013 seeing an overall drop in confidence among UK workers, according to Legal & General’s Job Security Index. 

The drop has been most notable among part-time workers, whose confidence in their job security is 10% lower than full-time workers.

The Job Security Index, which has been running since January 2012, shows that only 65% of part-time workers are confident about their job security compared to 75% of full-time workers.

In comparison to this time last year, confidence in job security has fallen further among part-time workers (from 69% in January 2012 to 65% in January 2013) than full-time workers (from 77% in January 2012 to 75% in January 2013).  Both part-time and full-time workers’ confidence in their job security was at a high of 73% and 79% respectively in October 2012.

This trend is mirrored by last month’s ONS employment statistics which showed that the number of people in part-time employment decreased by 23,000.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published new guidance to help employers and employees deal with the expression of religion or belief at work and avoid conflict and costly court cases.

The guidance follows the European Court of Human Rights judgment in four cases about religious rights in the workplace, one of which found that an employee suffered a breach of her right to religious freedom for being told not to wear a cross at work.

However, the fact that this judgment could be overturned on appeal and that it could take time for domestic courts to re-interpret existing domestic law, has the potential to cause confusion for employers on how to deal with employees who wish to express their beliefs at work.

The Commission has therefore produced guidance that employers can use to manage and protect religion and belief rights in the workplace.

It includes good practice advice for employers such as how to tell if a religion or belief is genuine, the kinds of religion and belief requests employers will need to consider and how to deal with them.

A new report on why employment rates for people with schizophrenia remain so low (8% compared to the national average of 71%) and how these can be overcome has been published by The Work Foundation.

A lack of understanding, stigma, fear and discrimination towards people with schizophrenia are needlessly preventing tens of thousands of people from finding or keeping jobs.

The report outlines a detailed set of interventions that would help reduce the barriers to work and highlights how work brings clear health benefits to people with schizophrenia.

Those in paid employment are over five times more likely to achieve functional remission than those who are unemployed or in unpaid employment. The research conducted for the report shows people with a history of the condition are able and willing to work.

Sir Robin Murray, Chair of the Schizophrenia Commission said: “The picture of the jobs market, and the way it works against people with severe mental illness in the UK, is not pretty. But the report is ultimately optimistic because it indicates very clearly that the solutions to this problem are known, and that good practice exists.

“Our challenge is to embrace the lessons from this report and to redouble our efforts to support people living with schizophrenia to find their rightful place in the world of work.”

The Government has recently announced details of the latest in a series of proposed employment law changes, with the focus this time falling on collective redundancy rules.

The announcement comes as part of the Government’s commitment to review employment law to support business and concentrate on growth. It follows a consultation exercise launched in June 2012. 

Background

The Coalition Government started a systematic review of employment law in 2010. This Employment Law Review is now halfway through and, according to the Government, aims to provide clarity, certainty and give businesses the confidence to manage their workforce effectively. 

The Review sits alongside the Employment Law-related Red Tape Challenge to reduce regulatory burdens on business.

Proposed changes

The latest proposed changes include:

  • reducing the current 90 day minimum period, before very large scale redundancies can take place, to 45 days,
  • legislating to make clear that fixed term contracts that have reached the end of their natural life are excluded from obligations for collective redundancies consultation, and
  • introducing new non-statutory Acas guidance to address a number of key issues affecting collective redundancies consultation.

Minimum period

According to the Government, the replacement of the current 90 day period to 45 days will still allow full employee engagement and offer employee representatives a statutory right to contribute to the process. 

The Government has also stressed that the new 45 day period will be a minimum period, and businesses may consult for longer where appropriate.

Mixed reactions

Reaction to the Government’s proposals has been mixed. 

The Institute of Directors welcomed the news, with Alexander Ehmann, Head of Regulatory Policy at the Institute of Directors, commenting that companies that are facing problems have to be able to restructure swiftly, and that a 45 day consultation period brings the UK closer to a number of EU competitors.

Trade union Unison, however, greeted the proposals with dismay, describing the reduced consultation time as “a cruel blow for workers and their families.”

Timescale

There is a short timescale laid out by the Government. It intends to lay draft regulations early in 2013, and the changes are expected to be made by 6th April 2013.

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.

More businesses using Acas

Posted by on in Employer Law

The number of businesses using Acas for advice on employment good practice has risen according to a survey of British workplaces.

The 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERs) found a 29% increase in managers using Acas since the 2004 survey.

Last year, the Acas helpline answered almost 925,000 calls on employment issues such as the Agency Workers Regulations and the Acas website saw a rise of around 10% in traffic with more than four and a half million visits.

The number of workplaces using grievance and disciplinary procedures that reflect the principles set out in the Acas Code has risen since 2004. For grievance procedures there was a 27% increase.

Other highlights from the WERs report include:

  • In relation to the economic climate, the survey revealed an increase in the number of strikes in the public sector.
  • Three quarters of workplaces changed some aspect of their staffing practices in response to the recession. The most common being a freeze or cut in wages (42%).
  • Low use of mediation to resolve individual disputes - 7% of workplaces reported its use.

The Government has outlined plans to reduce the number of employment disputes going to an Employment Tribunal.

The proposals include plans to:

  • Introduce a 12 month pay cap on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal.
  • Make template letters available to encourage the use of the new settlement agreements, alongside a statutory code of practice which will include an explanation of improper behaviour.
  • Not set a guideline tariff for settlement agreements. Government will instead develop guidance outlining the issues that should be considered when deciding and negotiating the level of financial settlement.

In addition, the Government has recently launched three employment related consultations, on:

  • Proposals to implement the Acas Early Conciliation (EC) process.
  • Proposals to reform The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employments) (TUPE), the legislation which protects employee rights when the business they work for transfers to a new employer.
  • Reforming the regulatory framework for employment agencies and employment businesses.

Acas will be publishing a draft Statutory Code for public consultation shortly.

The Chief Executive of Acas has predicted that workplace tension over pay will continue to be one of the challenges facing employers in 2013. He has also highlighted the need for employers to motivate and engage their workforces.

"Motivating and engaging staff by other ways rather than pay will therefore be a challenge and may require employers to be more inventive,” said John Taylor. “One way of engaging with staff may be to offer more flexible working arrangements. The Government is proposing to extend the right to request flexible working to everyone not just parents and carers. Acas will be producing a new code of practice and consulting on this in the new year."

Speaking of plans for the future, John Taylor said:

"Acas main focus over the course of the next year will be preparing to introduce our early conciliation service which will come in from April 2014. In future anyone thinking of making a tribunal claim will need to contact Acas first to try and resolve the dispute before it becomes a tribunal claim.

"In 2012 our voluntary Pre Claim Conciliation (PCC) service helped resolve over 21,000 workplace disputes between employers and employees avoiding the need to go to a tribunal. The introduction of Early Conciliation in 2014 will allow us to help even more people resolve their disputes early. Our current PCC service is free to use for both employers and employees - and Early Conciliation will be too. At Acas our advice is always that it is better to resolve disputes at the earliest possible stage, ideally in the workplace itself."

Low-wage earners

Posted by on in Employment Contract

Recent statistics from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, have revealed that one out of six employees (17%) in the EU27 was a low-wage earner in 2010.

This proportion varied significantly between Member States, with the highest percentages observed in Latvia (27.8%), and the lowest in Sweden (2.5%).

Low-wage earners are defined as those employees earning two thirds or less of the national median gross hourly earnings. Therefore, the thresholds that determine low-wage earners are relative and specific to each Member State.

There are large differences between men and women regarding the proportion of low-wage earners. In the EU27 in 2010, 21.2% of female employees were low-wage earners, compared with 13.3% of male employees.

In all Member States, except Bulgaria, there was a larger share of female employees who were low-wage earners than male.

The level of education plays an important role: the lower the level, the higher is the likelihood of being a low-wage earner. In the EU27 in 2010, 29.0% of employees with a low education level were low-wage earners, compared with 19.3% of those with a medium level and 5.8% of those with a high level.

The type of contract also has a significant impact. In the EU27 in 2010, 31.3% of employees with a contract of limited duration were low-wage earners, compared with 15.7% for those with an indefinite contract.

A Christmas bonus came top of bosses’ wish list in a poll published by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), though 79% of managers said they weren’t actually expecting to receive one this year.

In a survey of over 1,500 managers, 38% said a bonus would be the best Christmas present they could get from their company. A promotion was the second choice with 15%, followed closely by more staff (13%) and more training (12%). 

Meanwhile, with nearly two thirds (62%) of offices getting ready for the work Christmas party, the survey found that a fifth (20%) dread their workplace celebrations and almost a third (31%) of managers worry about the possible fallout following the festive party.

Topping the list of their concerns are: team members drinking too much (72%); colleagues becoming aggressive and arguing (38%); and attendance in the office and productivity suffering the following day due to hangovers (29%).

Almost two fifths (38%) of managers are expecting to see a drop in productivity in the run up to Christmas, with many noticing their colleagues seem more stressed (24%), distracted (28%) and tired (24%).

One in ten managers said they have had to discipline staff members after the Christmas party due to inappropriate behaviour in the past.

Organisations run the risk of hampering their own growth by failing to see through the implementation of diversity and inclusion policies, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

By focusing on introducing policies and overlooking how to embed diversity and inclusion, organisations run the risk of not responding to the diverse customer base of modern business.

Instead, firms need to consistently emphasise to front-line managers the simple fact that more diverse teams are more effective, innovative, and better equipped to deliver superior performance and growth. 

The report finds that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is increasingly fundamental, rather than a fringe issue: 83% of organisations have strategies and policies in place and 57% expect D&I to become more important in the next five years. However, too many organisations are still not looking beyond their legal requirements and too few have a truly embedded approach to D&I that is integral to their talent management strategies.

In the 18 months since Lord Davies published his review into women on boards there has been encouraging progress, according to a report by Cranfield School of Management. 

The number of women recruited to the boardrooms of the UK’s largest companies has increased and there has been a notable commitment by business to remove the obstacles preventing women making it to the boardroom.

The report shows that women now account for 17.4% of FTSE 100 and 12.0% of FTSE 250 board positions. Ninety-two FTSE 100 companies and 170 FTSE 250 companies now have at least one woman on their board.

In the six months since the last progress report, the percentage of new appointments going to women in both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies has risen, with 44.1% for FTSE 100 and 36.4% for FTSE 250.

The number of underemployed workers, people who are in employment but want to work more hours, has risen by one million since the start of the economic downturn in 2008 to stand at 3.05 million in 2012, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics.

The occupation category that consistently has the highest rate of underemployment is ‘elementary occupations’ (such as labourers, cleaners and catering staff). Within this category, those with some of the highest underemployment rates in 2012 are school crossing/midday assistants (39.4%), bar staff (32.9%) and cleaners (30.9%).

Underemployment rates vary across the English regions and devolved countries of the UK. Taking a four-year average from 2009 to 2012, the highest underemployment rate was in the East Midlands where 10.7% of workers wanted more hours in work. This was followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (10.6%), the North East (10.5%) and the South West (10.4%). The lowest underemployment rate was in the South East at 9.2%.

In 2012, 24% of part-time workers were underemployed, compared with just 6% of full-time workers. Another key factor influencing underemployment is the level of earnings. In 2012 the average underemployed employee earned a gross hourly wage of £7.49 while the average non-underemployed employee earned £10.81.

Drop in gender pay gap

Posted by on in Sex Discrimination

Recent figures released from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) have shown a drop of 9.6% in the UK gender pay gap in April 2012.

Other data in ASHE show that median gross weekly earnings for full-timers, at £506, were up by 1.5% on the 2011 figure of £498. Public sector workers saw a rise of 1.6% (from £556 in 2011 to £565 this year) while in the private sector the increase was 1.5% (£472 a week in 2011, £479 in 2012).

There was a narrowing in the gap between the highest and lowest paid employees: between 2011 and 2012, the hourly earnings excluding overtime of full-timers at the top decile point fell by 0.2%, whereas those at the bottom decile point saw an increase of 2.3%.

The region where employees had the highest median gross weekly earnings was London, at £653, and the region with the lowest earnings was Wales at £453.

The district with the highest-paying jobs was the City of London (a median of £917 a week full-time) and the district with the lowest-paid jobs was Torridge (£348 a week full-time).

UK managers are happiest during the first two years spent at an organisation, according to research published by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM).

The report uncovered evidence of a ‘two year itch’ that is harming the productivity of UK plc, with managers’ happiness and performance decreasing significantly across the board after this point.

The ILM study, which asked over 1,000 managers to assess themselves and their teams in terms of confidence, happiness and performance, revealed that stress can actually have a positive impact on productivity in the workplace.

Almost nine out of ten (87%) managers who rated their team’s performance highly also described their staff as ‘somewhat’ or ‘not very’ stressed, compared to just 5% whose staff were ‘very stressed’ and 8% who were ‘not at all stressed’. This highlights the challenge for organisations and managers to maintain the right level of stress, enough to focus and energise, without being so great that it affects wellbeing and performance.

The research also revealed that happy managers are better managers overall. When asked to rate their own performance, the top 10% of managers were also the happiest, with a happiness rating of 86 out of 100, while the bottom 10% of performers rated themselves as least happy at 30 out of 100.

Recent research has highlighted that poor working relationships are bad for business by damaging the emotional health, productivity and motivation of the UK’s 29 million employees.

The study, by Canada Life Group Insurance, found the ongoing economic downturn has heightened worries about job security, and workplaces are proving to be increasingly hostile environments.

Around 26% of employees have fallen out with a colleague who they say has made their working life more difficult, and 25% feel as though they have been poorly treated because they are different or ‘do not fit in’.

Employees seem more likely to recognise when their colleagues are treated unfairly – be it getting undeserved praise or unwarranted criticism - rather than if they are facing these issues. Almost two-thirds (64%) believe they have witnessed colleagues benefitting from favouritism but just 12% say they have benefitted from this.

Over half (54%) would say that some members of staff get away with doing less work because of their friendships with other employees (7% - themselves). Two-fifths (42%) have witnessed senior members of staff abusing their power in the workplace, and 47% have seen colleagues making life more difficult for one another after a falling out.

This could have as demoralising an effect as witnessing bullying or ill-treatment; a third (36%) have witnessed colleagues receiving praise and recognition – even though they feel have not worked as hard as they should.

Shared parental leave is a step in the right direction, but pay inequality remains a major obstacle to women achieving equality in the workforce, according to the Law Society.

Responding to the government's announcement that parents will be allowed to share up to a year's leave after the birth of a child, the Law Society said the move is a useful step forward and will help many couples to share responsibility in the early stages of a child's development, but without a change to working culture, the introduction of shared parental leave will not achieve the benefit the government hopes for.

The Law Society points to pay inequality as one of the most significant obstacles to women achieving equality in the workforce.

'The reality is that for many couples, a disparity in pay between the father and mother will make it difficult for couples to share parental leave', explains Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff.

'Families will simply not be able to afford to live off the mother's salary if it is significantly lower than the father's.'

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