Education beats back pain

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Education beats back painOn 1 Aug 2001 in Personnel Today Astudy has confirmed that public education is effective in improving back painproblemsLarge-scalepublic education campaigns designed to improve knowledge and awareness of backpain can influence how doctors treat the condition, help reduce disability andcut the number of workers’ compensation claims, research has suggested.Thestudy by doctors in Victoria, Australia, performed a before and after survey in4,730 members of the general population and 2,556 GPs in two states to evaluatethe effect of a public health campaign using the media in 1997. Televisioncommercials gave advice on staying active and not resting for prolonged periodsand of the benefits of remaining at work. Thecampaign included billboard advertising, workplace visits and publishedarticles. An educational booklet was also made widely available. Asa result, beliefs about back pain improved among the general public anddoctors, while there was a decline in the number of claims for back pain, ratesof days compensated and medical payments for claims for back pain.Andin a separate study, doctors in Finland and Canada have found “strongevidence” that intensive multidisciplinary bio-psychosocial rehabilitationwith functional restoration can improve function in patients with disablinglower back pain for more than three months.Thestudy of 1,964 patients reported some evidence of improvements in workreadiness, although in other patients there was no significant reduction insick leave. “Intensivemultidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation with functional restorationreduces pain and improves function in patients with chronic low back pain. Lessintensive interventions did not show improvements in clinically relevantoutcomes,” it concludes.IainMcIntyre, a member of the Department of Health’s NHS Plus/Workforce team, saidoccupational health had traditionally had a low profile with GPs in thiscountry. “It is not something they immediately think about when they seepatients,” he said.Whilethere were no plans for similar-scale public education campaigns in the UK, thedepartment’s Back in Work initiative, which has been looking at the issue,would hopefully, over time, help to raise awareness. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Managers keep breaking the law

first_img Comments are closed. Sixmonths ago, I was overjoyed to get my first HR manager job at an engineeringfirm employing over 200 people. My initial joy has turned into despair. Withoutbeing too specific, many of the company’s employment practices and policies arehighly dubious and quite a few contravene employment law. My bosses are fullyaware of all this, and are putting great pressure on me not to rock the boat.What should I do?CliveSussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible LearningThereare several points to consider:1Having been with the company for six months, you should understand both themanagement style and how the business runs.2In that time you should have been establishing credibility as the HRprofessional on site, both with management and the workforce.3One of the fundamental requirements of the HR function in any organisation isto ensure that it fully complies with legislation.Thisis a test of your credibility and leadership with management. To succeed, itwill be necessary to present a forceful business case to management, includingpossible penalties for directors and staff for breaches of the law and theconsequence of investigations by outside bodies such as the Health and SafetyExecutive.PeterLewis, consultant, Chiumento Youindicate that your bosses are fully aware of contravening employment law andare not prepared to do anything about it. Try to find out very quickly why thisis this case. Is it that they cannot see a way of achieving business goalswhile operating under employment law? Have you looked carefully at thesituation in a way that gives them alternatives that meet the needs of thebusiness, while complying with legislation?Ifthe answer is yes and they are still not interested, you should look foranother job. It is essential that any job you take reflects best practice andmeets your values. Prospectiveemployers will be interested in your achievements, and it doesn’t sound asthough you will have achieved much should you stay where you are.Updateyour CV to take account of your responsibilities and achievements and send itto agencies and, speculatively, directly to organisations that are of interestto you. Network with friends and colleagues, and use your contacts to generateopportunities.Whenyou attend an interview, you are bound to be asked the reason for leaving yourcurrent role so soon after joining. Prepare your answer fully and reply calmly,confidently and logically. Focus on facts and demonstrate how you made everyeffort to change things, but that in the end you were being asked to supportillegal practices, which you could not do. Avoidmaking personal comments about the company. Concentrate on the plans you hadfor the organisation, how you can add value with your experience andachievements and demonstrate enthusiasm.LouiseWhite, consultant, EJ Human ResourcesYouneed to start thinking about the way you approach the subject of employment lawto your employers as the current methods are obviously not working. The easiestway to make your bosses listen is to relate your arguments to the bottom line.Detail the financial implications of being taken to a tribunal, the impact ofbad press, the implications this could have for recruiting future talent andthe increased costs resulting from high turnover. Thinkabout your policies and procedures and ask how innovative and flexible theyare. If you show your employers that you are working with them rather thanagainst them, you should be able to make inroads. Yourrole is to provide them with advice, if they choose not to take it, you shouldnot feel that you are not doing your job properly. Ifyou feel you’ve tried everything, think about what you want out of a role, andwhether this organisation can provide it. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Managers keep breaking the lawOn 16 Oct 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Join the club

first_img Comments are closed. Not content with sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, casualtiesof the US recession have been proactive in seeking work – tapping into the jobsgrapevine via self-help groups  Wiling away an afternoon at a Silicon Valley cinema last June, out-of-workInternet executives Michael Feldman and Andrew Brenner had an idea as theyjoined the other dotcom casualties in the queue – why not start a social clubfor people in the same boat as themselves? Thus was hatched Recession Camp – an online organisation hosting a roster ofpursuits to drag the laid-off legions away from the lonely job-hunting trail.Fashioned after the summer camps that are an American rite of passage,Recession Camp has captured the imagination of the post-boom economy in a wayneither of its thirty-something founders dreamt of. In San Francisco and Silicon Valley, ground zero for the downturn, theorganisation has garnered more than 600 members since Feldman and Brennerreserved an Internet domain name and posted their Web pages a few months ago.An average 25 people flock to thrice-weekly events such as wine tastings orpicnics. The phenomenon has easily eclipsed the splash made by either of the dotcomstart-ups both formerly worked for. “It’s just got way out of hand,”says Feldman, ex-CEO of an online marketing firm. The two have fielded callsfrom other time-rich former high-fliers in London and New York to set upsatellite chapters of Recession Camp and have found themselves emblazonedacross the pages of Business Week and the Los Angeles Times. Despite suggestions that they have a company on their hands, Feldman andBrenner insist Recession Camp is strictly a hobby until either finds work.Nevertheless, with the camp’s continued success, Feldman admits to having givencommercial possibilities some thought. However, it would be hard to cash in onthe finance-strapped unemployed participants who rely on the camp for bothpractical and emotional support. “It’s a great networking outlet,” says one such camper BrianFrank, laid off from a software start-up in March. “We trade leads and[job-hunting] experience.” On top of physical interaction, campers can logonto online bulletin boards to swap experience and advice. As well as helpingeach other tap the employment grapevine, Recession Camp offers a group hug forthe unemployed, much as a self-help group provides psychological support.”We commiserate and cry on each other’s shoulders,” says Frank. In the San Francisco Bay area, where the IT-heavy workforce has been at thesharp end of the slowing economy, Recession Camp is just one of a menu ofself-help consolations to combat the out-of-work blues. Meanwhile, despite the emergence of grass roots upstarts, traditionalback-to-work services continue to flourish. Many established Silicon Valleyfirms are using outplacement firms to soften the blow of redundancy. The NewJersey-based Lee Hecht Harrison, for instance, counts contracts with six of theleading 10 companies in the region. Under its contract with California-basedHewlett-Packard the firm has put a global network of 10 dedicated careerscentres at the disposal of 6,000 staff laid off by the computer and printermaker in July. “Centres are set up like regular work offices with cubicles, faxmachines and administrative staff,” says Sharon Winston, Lee Hecht’ssenior vice-president in San Jose. Also part of the package are trainingseminars, interactive workshops, round table discussions and networking groupevents. The programme is available for one to 12 months, depending onemployees’ length of service. “We’ve tried to revolve the programme around treating employees withdignity and respect,” explains HP global workforce management policy andprogramme manager Steve Hastings. In addition, Lee Hecht holds regular jobfairs for ex-HP staffers. An event in Silicon Valley, earlier this month, drew30 employers with most of the 250 attendees thronging the booth of HP rivalIBM, according to Winston. Such cross-industry co-operation is surprisingly commonplace among US ITfirms. Santa Clara-based Intel, which retains Wright Resources as itsoutplacer, recently opened its doors to other IT companies to help laid-offstaff find work. However, the most staggering example of one company reaching out to othersis an e-mail from Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell to fellow IT executives. Themissive paid tribute to staff axed in the PC and laptop maker’s cost-cuttingefforts and beseeched other companies to consider them for any availablepositions. Borrowing from its direct sales model of bypassing the middle manand selling straight to customers over the Internet, Dell has christened theinitiative, “Direct2Dell Talent”. Of course, many fired workers cannot count on the umbrella of a well-heeledcorporation to kick-start their job search and this is where self-help hasfilled a vacuum. Cash-strapped or bankrupt dotcoms without the resources tosplash out on expensive exit services for departing staff have accounted formore than 116,000 redundancies since January 2000, according to the latestfigures from Web Mergers. Also swelling support group ranks are former workers for whom Recession Campand its kin are an adjunct to outplacement services. Those who find themselvesin the jobs market after their entitlement to such services has expired, havealso joined the do-it-yourself fold. Although Recession Camper Brian Frank is not eligible for lavish corporateoutplacement services, his multi-stranded approach is typical of many earnestCalifornia job seekers. As well as Recession Camp, the former softwareexecutive is a member of the alumni association of his alma mater CornellUniversity and the Young Alumni of the Bay area group for Ivy League graduates.Both groups offer mentoring, help with CVs and invaluable networkingopportunities, says Frank. Meanwhile, Recession Camp co-founder Feldman says the group is contemplatingproffering its services to companies as an official resource for laid-offworkers. Far from treading on their toes, Recession Camp and similar groupscomplement the work of outplacement firms, according to John Challenger, CEO ofChicago-based outplacer Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Outplacement firms do not find jobs for people… [they] exploreresources and should leave no stone unturned,” says Challenger.”Every [social] circle that people can excavate is to theiradvantage.” Self-help groups take their cue from university and corporate alumniorganisations, notes Challenger. It is the Internet, though, that has been thecatalyst for extending the idea beyond college or corporate boundaries.”Through e-mail people have the ability to send a message to 1,000 othersin a single mouse click or keystroke,” says Challenger. “Previously,people scattered to the wind after a downsizing,” he says. Now they cancongregate online. However, at the same time, the Internet is bringing down the curtain on manytraditional career centres, which are finding themselves spurned by IT-savvyjob seekers. Casualties of previous recessions flocked to Lifeprint, a SanFrancisco career centre, to pour over its binders of job listings. This time,they scour the Web for openings. Lifeprint, which has also been stung bydotcoms that hired its services for laid-off staff then defaulted on paymentswhen they folded, is now preparing to shut down. The going is also tough for independent career counsellors, who are findingthere is not a lot of spare cash around for their services these days.Combining the convenience of the Web with the networking opportunities ofevents, Recession Camp and similar groups offer job- seekers an effective toolto get their foot in the door. However, such informal organisations are not without potential pitfalls.After all, misery loves company. “You can have the people who are mostemotionally upset and panicky guide the whole group in this direction,”says Challenger. And assuming that their members remain constructive, any grouphas its work cut out getting people back to work in the current job market.”The jobs are not out there,” admits Feldman. Feldman says he is being choosy about his next job. Nevertheless, hediligently puts in several hours a day working the phone and chasing leads andas a three-time company founder and two-time CEO with a computer science degreefrom Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers impressive credentials. He isnot too discouraged by the lack of response, however, pointing to RecessionCamp’s other attractions. Since setting it up he’s had no shortage of dates, hesays, and other members attest too, to the matchmaking power of the group. “It is also a chance to get more balance into your life,” heexplains. “I’ve been in Silicon Valley, working hard, for 12 years[without] the time to stick my head up for air.” The new way to networkWhen hardware, software and Internetcontent companies rode the good times in the late 1990s, high-end serviceindustries sprang up to cater to their high-rolling employees. Now the localeconomy has hit hard times, luxury car showrooms and boutique restaurants havebeen displaced by back-to-work groups of various hues.Like Recession Camp, many axed workers are doing things forthemselves. Ex-workers from computer chip giant Intel, computer hardware firmHewlett-Packard and other Silicon Valley firms that have laid off thousandsthis year congregate in tight-knit support groups. Such groups typically meetat local restaurants to swap job leads over a cheap lunch.Also on the Web, Laidoff Central, started in June by laid-offArlington, Virginia Web developer Steffen Tengesdal, offers online condolencesand bulletin boards for members to exchange employment gossip.Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based Layoff Lounge with chapters in SanFrancisco and Silicon Valley offers job-hunting tips with a social bent.Typical gatherings combine cocktails with lectures and pooling of job leads.Jobless tech-support staff, the unsung heroes of the Internetrevolution, flock to their own support group at Cupertino’s Career ActionCenter in downtown Silicon Valley. Other events at the centre, such as aworkshop entitled, “Marketing yourself to a roomful of strangers,”reflect the tough slog job-seekers face.In San Francisco’s financial district, out-of- workprofessionals convene every Friday at the Lifeprint career-counselling centre.Also on Friday, ProMatch, a state-funded career-counselling programme in SiliconValley’s Sunnyvale, whose streets are lined with downsized IT companies, counts250 members and a month-long waiting list.Also witnessing an uptake in business is philanthropic SanFrancisco social group DoGooDates, whose charitable activities such asdispensing food to the homeless draw a sizeable contingent of former dotcomers. Join the clubOn 20 Nov 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Rochdale Council

first_imgRochdale CouncilOn 29 Jan 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council is to introduce flexible workingacross the authority after a pilot scheme reduced sickness absence by more thana third. Each of the eight departments at the council will have two work-life balanceprojects in operation by the end of the year. The council has extended office-opening hours to include the weekend andintroduced shorter hours and home-working. These measures were first introduced as part of a pilot scheme in thecorporate services department, where it helped reduce sickness absence from5.63 days to 3.62 days per employee per year. Stephen Harper, head of personnel at the council, said: “We have sweptaside the rule book on when staff can start and finish. It is now up tomanagers to decide if the [flexible] idea is workable.” Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Wasting time

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. It’sa well known fact that UK employees work the longest hours in the EU and the Governmentis keen to redress the issue. Research confirms flexible hours lead to a moreproductive workforce yet HR finds itself culpable in setting a bad example byworking ever longer hours. Phil Boucher reportsPicture the scene. You have been working all day, your in-box has beendefeated and in theory you’re free to go home any time you wish. Only, nobodyelse is leaving – they’re all waiting for the HR director to walk out beforethey make a move. Does this sound horribly familiar? Unfortunately, it will to many. Accordingto the CIPD, the TUC and the Department of Trade and Industry, the UK has alonger working week than anywhere else in Europe. The most recent survey offull-time employees by the European Commission’s Statistical Office, Eurostat,shows staff in the UK clocked up an average of 43.6 hours compared to their EUcounterparts of 40.3 overall. The TUC’s About Time report also claims that 2.5m managerial or professionalemployees currently work more than 48 hours a week – a figure that unavoidablyincludes members of the HR profession. In a recent speech at the TUC’sconference of the same name, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry PatriciaHewitt outlined the Government’s determination to tackle this issue by settingemployers a five-year deadline to correct the situation (see box overleaf). It is also a matter of concern to the CIPD whether the benefits of workinglong hours are commensurate with the cost to people’s health, performance and output.While it places HR in the vanguard of tackling the issue, the institute alsobelieves the profession has its own long-hours problems to address. MikeEmmott, CIPD adviser on employee relations, says: “HR is part of themanagement and therefore if there is a culture of long hours HR is likely to bea part of that.” Inevitably HR is implicated in its failure to drive the debate on flexibleworking. Unless it leads by example HR will fail for the simple reason thatpeople ask: “If HR isn’t doing it, then how can we?” As Cary Cooper, Bupa professor of organisational psychology and health atthe University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, (UMIST)points out: “HR is a fundamental function in the organisation. And at themoment it sends out the wrong signals. How can you on the one hand say ‘reducehours, introduce flexible working, aim for a better work-life balance, manageyour human resources properly and minimise stress’, when by your behaviour youare conveying the absolute opposite? It undermines everything you are trying toachieve.” But before HR is able to tackle its own long-hours problem it has toidentify the reasons for them. Research by Roffey Park Institute suggests thatpresenteeism plays a part in 60 per cent of all cases nationally. However, HRis also likely to suffer from the excessive workloads that the About Time studysays accounts for half the long hours worked by professionals. A glance through Personnel Today’s Head to Head section which quizzes HRdirectors about their roles reveals, without exception, that HR directorstypically work 50-60 hour weeks. And of all the reasons given it is theworkload that’s most commonly cited. John Marsh, head of personnel at the Prison Service is a typical example ofthis. He admits to working a 55-hour week, but explains: “The reality isthat I am a senior manager and the hours I undertake are a combination ofworkload, the fact that I am new to the area and am on a learning curve, andmost of all that I enjoy it – I would never do them otherwise.” There are other reasons. Linda Holbeche, director of research at RoffeyPark, believes HR suffers from a cultural desire to reward those who work longhours. Many of the areas HR is involved in such as industrial relations andcultural change programmes also lend themselves to long meetings and endlessreams of time-consuming paperwork. As a result many HR professionals see long hours as part and parcel of theirjob when in fact they are symptoms of bad practice. “It’s important that HRfocuses on ensuring it understands the reality of peer pressure within its owndepartments, where people feel they will miss out career- wise if they do notstay late,” Holbeche says. “It’s a case of looking at the policiesand working more subtly to challenge the main practices that support longhours.” But along with examining the long-hours culture within its ranks, HRprofessionals have to consider the impression they make. As it has set itselfup as a champion of flexible working arguably it has a duty to achieve bestpractice on long hours. The difficulty is deciding how to achieve it. Theo Blackwell, policy specialist at the Industrial Society, believes HR hasto lead by example and demonstrate that flexible working is the key to solvingthe long-hours problem. “If HR departments see the need for flexibleworking but cannot get this message across, then they can hardly expect otherdepartments to take the lead,” he says. “HR has to drive the debateby pursuing the idea of flexible working and showing the business benefitsthrough its own example.” The good news for HR is that there are plenty of examples from which to takea lead. Microsoft has designated a number of ‘HR role models’ within its HRteam, for instance, who make sure the rest of the function do not work too manyhours. Their job is to lead by example and demonstrate the benefits of flexibleworking to the rest of the company. Jill Crowther, HR manager for Microsoft, says: “Our HR role modelsensure the rest of HR team members make time to pursue their outside interests.We follow the example of the head of HR, Steve Harvey who is a real believer inthe business benefits of a rounded lifestyle.” Microsoft’s company policy helps enforce this as it is designed to create anenvironment where people have freedom over their day. Much of this hinges on anannual employee survey which notes both the hours people are working and howsatisfied they are with undertaking them. The result is an enlightened working environment that tries to match individualand corporate needs. In the US, Microsoft even encourages its programmers towork shorter hours by pledging money to charity for every day they leave workon time. Whether or not this would work in every company is contestable but theprinciples of leading by example and considering the benefits of shorter hoursare universal. As Bupa’s Professor Cooper, of UMIST, says: “It is about setting anexample and then communicating this to the rest of the organisation.” A flexible working programme run by British Telecom’s HR team has enabled5,000 employees to work from home and shaved £220m off real estate costs. Andthe starting point for BT was an HR department which realised the long-hoursculture could only be challenged by taking the wider view. Since then BT’s HR department has worked closely with line managers andfuturologists to focus on other areas of the business that can be shifted fromthe current obsession with long hours. HR takes a lead role in the developmentof flexible working practices as well as in the way BT conducts its business.Caroline Waters, director of employment policy at BT, says: “We shouldn’tjust be tackling the long-hours culture. We should be changing the wholeemployment environment.” Toy manufacturer Mattel has also enjoyed a dramatic improvement in staffmotivation and morale since it introduced a ‘summer hours’ package more than ayear ago. This enables staff to leave work at midday on Fridays and encouragesthem to take time off to explore outside interests. The idea is to focus on how individual happiness relates to the bottom line.Dr Aysen Broadfield, European HR director of Mattel, says: “HR’s role isto identify issues relating to motivation, productive or unproductive stressand the productivity of individuals. Since the summer hours were introduced wehave noticed people react more constructively to work demands, workloads andlong hours.” By taking steps like these HR can drive the debate on flexible working.Unless it leads by example, how can HR credibly enforce the message? Steps to achieve a work-life balance  The Government has announced a raft of legislation aimed atcurbing the long-hours culture. This includes– The Working Time Directive is to beextended in the next 18 months, to include the transport sector, offshoreworkers and junior doctors. Legislation on 16 and 17-year-olds will betightened. Employees will also get four weeks paid holiday a year.– Statutory maternity pay willincrease by up to £100 a week from April. Maternity leave will also beavailable for up to a year and fathers will be entitled to two weeks paidpaternity leave for the first time.– Employers will also have toconsider a parental request for flexible working from next year and eitheragree new arrangements, or provide hard business reasons for why they cannot beput in place.– Elsewhere, the Government isplanning to reform working time in the public sector by developing codes ofbest practice across departments. A working party has already been set up in theDTI and the Cabinet Office is engaged in sharing these ideas around Whitehall.– Private-sector employers are beingencouraged to draft similar programmes in co-operation with unionrepresentatives, who themselves are being pushed to negotiate individualworkplace agreements on working time.– To help business come to terms withthese changes and advise them on the whole issue of challenging the long-hoursculture, the DTI has introduced two guides from the DTI’s Work-life BalanceCampaign: ‘Work-Life Balance: The Business Case’; and ‘Work-Life Balance: TheEssentials Guide’.– These provide case studies of employers which havesuccessfully managed to curb their workers’ hours along with advice on how tochallenge the situation.– A study programme has been set upto investigate the impact of shorter hours on productivity and the success ofthe Working Time Directive. This will investigate best practice and successfulinnovation in the Netherlands, France and the US to see which practices can betransferred to the UK.For information call the work-lifebalance campaign on 0870 1502 500, or contact the DTI on 020 7215 5000 ( Previous Article Next Article Wasting timeOn 26 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Staff slow to take up work-life options

first_imgUKemployees are failing to take up work-life balance options, according to a newreport.Thestudy by the independent Institute for Employment Studies, Work-life Balance:Beyond the Rhetoric, says employers are offering increased options as theyrecognise the business benefits of the schemes, but employees have not embracedthem.SallyDench, IES Senior Research Fellow and author of the report, said she found agap between employees’ demands and take-up of the options.Shesaid: “Rights to time off and flexible working practices are rarely enough. Achange in culture and attitudes within the organisation is necessary for thesuccessful implementation of work-life balance practices.“If seniormanagers are serious about promoting work-life balance they need to beproactive. It rarely happens without positive leadership from above.” Comments are closed. Staff slow to take up work-life optionsOn 30 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Can my skills lead to consultancy?

first_imgCan my skills lead to consultancy?On 25 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article I have an HR generalist background, but have been working increasingly in HRISproject management for the past five years. It is a role that I enjoy and I’mfortunate in being able to handle both the technical and interpersonal sides.How can I capitalise on this? Should I look for similar roles, move intoworking for an HR software supplier, or set myself up as an independentconsultant? Doug Knott, senior consultant, Chiumento You have rightly identified the value of your combination of technical andinterpersonal skills. How you capitalise on this relatively rare combinationdepends upon your future career goals and circumstances and what you want fromyour next job. Given that one of the options you are considering is independentconsultancy, a sensible first step might be to work for a well-known HRsoftware supplier in a project-based consultancy role. This would assist you indeveloping the necessary competencies and contacts to set yourself up as anindependent at a later date. It would also test whether you suffer any seriouswithdrawal symptoms from a more corporate-type role. To become an independent now would be a higher risk strategy as you’d beresponsible for sourcing business as well as project delivery. Potentialcustomers, particularly large organisations, will typically prefer to use aproven brand name for their HRIS projects. Suzanne Taylor, consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes These are all options which are available to you. However, you need toconsider the aspects of your role that you enjoy aside from the technicalaspects of HRIS. For example, you enjoy the interpersonal aspects of your work,and this is certainly something that can be hard to find in HRIS specialistroles. If you were to become an independent consultant, you must notunderestimate the sales element that will be called for, even if you alreadyhave a strong network of contacts. The alternative of working for an HR software supplier, could mean you losethe interpersonal aspects of your work. If you have not yet gained sufficientexperience in the field, you may find you would be put on projects just todeliver results, rather than necessarily to consult with clients. One thing that jumps out from your question is that you seem happy in yourcurrent role. I would therefore suggest you consider remaining with yourcurrent employer while you are continuing to learn from the role and beingsufficiently challenged by it. Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS consultancy If you were to set up as an independent consultant you’d need to decide whatservice you would be providing for your clients. From a technical angle, youcould look at providing consultancy in the specification of systems andadvising on the choice of system. There is a demand for this service, althoughfinding the clients will involve a lot of research and marketing effort. Another area you might like to consider could be providing training on HRsystems. This would utilise both your technical experience and yourinterpersonal skills. Again, the hard work is in finding the clients. Thereare a large number of software suppliers and your skills and experience wouldbe of interest to them. While smaller companies would be looking for sellingexperience, larger companies would have a number of implementation roles thatyou could take on. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Learning for life: Health and safety

first_img Previous Article Next Article Learning for life: Health and safetyOn 1 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Life Long Learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) are theprocesses by which professionals, such as nurses, develop and improve theirpractice. There are many ways to address CPD: formally, through attending courses,study days and workshops; or informally, through private study and reflection.Reading articles in professional journals is a good way of keeping up-to-datewith what is going on in the field of practice, but reflecting and identifyingwhat you have learnt is not always easy. These questions are designed to helpyou to identify what you have learnt from studying the article. They will alsohelp you to clarify what you can apply to practice, what you did not understandand what you need to explore further. 1. Which of the following is NOT a blood-borne virus? a) Hepatitis A b) Hepatitis B c) Hepatitis C d) HIV 2. Which country passed the Needlestick Safety Prevention Act? a) UK b) USA c) Australia d) Canada 3. How many categories were products grouped into? a) 3 b) 4 c) 5 d) 6 4. Who was responsible for training the staff on how to use the products?a) Line manager b) OHN c) Company representatives d) OH doctor 5. The second needlestick injury during the trial was due to a) Inadequate communication b) Failure of a safety mechanism c) Incompatibility of products d) Poor technique 6. What opportunity was lost if there was a failure to return theevaluation forms? The opportunity to influence a) Safety policy b) Which products will be used c) Which products will not be used d) Management 7. Each evaluation form had 13 points to consider, which one of thefollowing was NOT one of those points? a) The packaging is clearly labelled b) The safety feature is easy to use c) Appropriate training is given prior to using the device d) Training is not needed prior to using the device 8. With regard to safety devices what is a serious concern? a) Doctor’s resistance b) Financial implications c) Sickness absence figures d) RIDDOR 9. What is the name of the software system for recording exposure toblood-borne viruses? a) SAFtinet b) RCNnet c) EPINet d) HAIrnet 10. The use of sharps safety devices are a) Compulsory b) Voluntary c) Recommended d) Legislative Feedback1.a) Revise your knowledge of blood-borne viruses. Hepatitis A istransmitted via the faecal-oral route. 2.b). 3a) Of these threecategories two apply to the work of the OH nurse outside the NHS. Many OHnurses take blood as part of health surveillance while also being involved withtravel health and immunisation. So even though this work was undertaken in ahospital setting it is extremely relevant to most OH services. 4.c)Training is an important part of the principles of prevention. Companies thatsupply products are usually only too happy to provide training and information.In fact many also supply accredited courses, some of which are accessible onthe internet. It is worth exploring the company’s website and finding out whatthey offer. 5.d) All these answers could be correct, but in thisinstance the poor technique demonstrated the importance of training. Reviewyour policy and procedures for handling sharps. Discuss with your colleagues ifyou feel it is adequate or needs updating in light of needlestick accidents. 6.b).7.d) Although one question was that the user did not need ‘extensive’training. 8.b). 9.c) If you do not have one obtain a copy of the RCN’sBe Sharp – be safe campaign, code no: 001 425. 10.b) The answer to thisquestion brings us back to question 2. Discuss with your clinical supervisor orcolleagues the advantages and disadvantages of making sharps safety devices alegal requirement. last_img read more

Trust me, I’m an implied term

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article The rising star of the employment contract is undoubtedly the implied termof mutual trust and confidence. Karen Seward and Sheila Fahy chart its meteoricrise to fameIt is a product of our time. Just like the internet and DVDs, the impliedterm of mutual trust and confidence was once a far-fetched concept. Now it isseemingly used by everyone, everywhere, for everything. The key to its ‘success’ is that it is framed in general terms, so it can beapplied to almost any situation. It has strengthened the position of employeesby filling gaps in the law not covered by legislation. Employers can no longerrely on the absence of legal rules in any area to protect them if their conductis so bad it undermines the employment relationship. Inappropriate comments One of the early appearances of the implied term of mutual trust andconfidence was in the late 1970s in the case of Courtaulds Northern TextilesLtd v Andrew [1979] IRLR 84. During the course of a heated argument, a manager told an employee:”You can’t do the bloody job anyway.” He responded by resigning andclaiming constructive dismissal. Accepting that there was no truth in the manager’s comment, the EAT held theemployee was justified in claiming constructive dismissal. It said there was animplied term in employment contracts that employers would not, withoutreasonable and proper cause, conduct themselves in a manner calculated orlikely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of confidence and trustbetween the parties. Mobility clauses In United Bank v Akhtar [1989] IRLR 507, the implied term of mutualtrust and confidence was used by the employee to override the express terms ofthe employment contract. A mobility clause in Akhtar’s employment contractpermitted the bank to require him to transfer to anywhere in the UK where thebank had a presence. The bank had discretion to pay relocation and other allowances.Akhtar was asked to move from Leeds to Birmingham with less than one week’snotice. When he asked for more notice to sell his house and so forth, the bankrefused. To make matters worse, it offered no financial assistance. The difficulty for the tribunal was that, under normal principles ofcontract law, an implied term cannot override the express terms of theemployment contract. Nevertheless, it manoeuvred its way around this problem tofind in the employee’s favour. It held that while the implied term of mutual trust and confidence could notoverride the express mobility provision, the latter had to be interpreted insuch a way that it included an implied requirement that reasonable notice wouldbe given, and that discretion concerning financial assistance be exercised in away that allowed the employee to comply with his contractual obligations. Thebank appealed – but to no avail. Permanent health insurance The same principles have been applied in the context of permanent healthinsurance. The High Court held that – except where summary dismissal isjustified – the employer could not terminate the contract while the employeewas incapacitated for work if this would remove their entitlement to benefitunder the PHI scheme (Aspden v Webbs Poultry and Meat Group Holdings[1996] IRLR 521). References In TSB Bank v Harris [2000] IRLR 157, the bank breached the impliedterm of mutual trust and confidence by giving a reference to a prospectiveemployer which mentioned complaints against Harris of which she was unaware,and which she had been given no opportunity to answer. This was despite thefact the bank was required to make such disclosures under the rules governingthe regulation of the financial services industry. The EAT pointed out the bank could have discussed the complaints withHarris, giving her a chance to put her case, before making the disclosures. Bonuses Bonuses have also been touched by this troublesome term. In the case of Clarkv Nomura International plc [2000] IRLR 766, the High Court held thatemployers must not operate discretionary bonus schemes in an irrational orperverse manner. Enhanced benefits The application of the term in Transco plc v O’Brien [2002] ICR 721was particularly tough on the employer. O’Brien was denied the opportunity toenter into a revised contract of employment with enhanced redundancy terms,which were offered to 75 other permanent workers. Transco did not offer the terms to O’Brien because at the time, he was notconsidered a permanent employee. But the Court of Appeal ruled that this was abreach of the term of mutual trust and confidence. To deprive one member of alarge workforce of the same benefits as their colleagues is likely to seriouslydamage the relationship of trust and confidence between employee and employer. Stigma damage The widely publicised case of Malik v Bank of Credit and CommerceInternational SA (in compulsory liquidation) [1997] ICR 606 was also acontractual claim for breach of the term of mutual trust and confidence. The House of Lords held that the bank breached the term when it carried outfraudulent business practices – the stigma of which prevented former employeesfrom obtaining work afterwards. The court’s groundbreaking decision ruled thatfor the first time, it was possible for employees to recover damages forongoing financial loss. Damages had previously been limited to the noticeperiod. Damages for the manner of the dismissal As the law stands, damages for the manner of a dismissal can be awarded incases brought under the statutory unfair dismissal scheme, but not incontractual claims related to the term of mutual trust and confidence. What ismore, case law has thrown up a confusing distinction between cases where theemployee is dismissed, and those where they are suspended. In a recent trust and confidence case Johnson v Unisys [2001] IRLR279, the House of Lords confirmed the rule that those bringing a contractualclaim for wrongful dismissal cannot claim damages for the manner of thatdismissal. It pointed out that as the statutory unfair dismissal scheme payscompensation for the manner of the dismissal, it was not necessary for thecourts to develop a common law remedy as well. The implied term of mutual trustand confidence was concerned with the preservation of the employmentrelationship, and therefore had no place in dismissal claims. Then Gogay v Hertfordshire County Council [2000] IRLR 703 muddied thewaters. This was a contractual claim for damages for clinical depression,caused by the employee’s suspension and the employer’s failure to properlyinvestigate the allegations that led to it. The court found in the employee’sfavour and said the strict rules in the Johnson case did not apply as the Gogaycase related to a suspension, not a dismissal. The upshot of these and other recent cases is that where the employer’sbreach of the term of mutual trust and confidence leads to the employee beingsuspended, the employee can recover damages, but where it results in dismissal,he cannot. Employers could be forgiven for thinking they would be better offdismissing an employee at an early stage, rather than suspending the matter tocomplete an investigation. Clearly, this cannot be right. Hot off the press, meanwhile, is the latest Court of Appeal decision ontrust and confidence in McCabe v Cornwall County Council [2002] EWCA Civ1887. A number of schoolgirls complained of inappropriate sexual conduct bytheir teacher, Mr McCabe. Five days after the complaints were received, McCabewas suspended, without being given details of the allegations made against him.It was not until four months later, while still under suspension, that McCabewas finally made aware of the allegations. From then on, he suffered from psychiatric illness. During the course of thenext three years there were three disciplinary hearings, each unfavourable toMcCabe. In the end he was dismissed, even though it was found that his originalconduct could have been described as relatively trivial. The High Court dismissed the case – the Johnson principle barred the claimbecause it related to the manner of the dismissal and Gogay only applied insuspension cases falling short of dismissal. But the Court of Appeal took adifferent view. It said that dismissal is not an automatic bar to a claim ofbreach of the term of mutual trust and confidence; if an employer’s conductwould have entitled the claimant to bring a claim had it not been for thedismissal then there may be a case to answer. However, in some cases, theconduct that the employee claims has breached the term, will be so closelylinked to the dismissal that the Johnson bar will still apply. The difficulty is knowing where a distinction can be drawn. The Court ofAppeal indicated factors that may be relevant: – Whether the employer has embarked on disciplinary proceedings withdismissal already in mind – Whether warnings have been issued and under what circumstances – Whether there is a natural break in the disciplinary process before the dismissalbecomes a practical proposition – Whether the injury complained of is attributable to the employer’s conductImplications for employers Because trust and confidence claims can be brought in almost any area ofemployment, it can be hard to see them coming. What do they look like? Afterall, the cases described above appear to have little in common. There is some comfort in the fact that what they do share are examples offairly extreme treatment of one form or another – treatment that is irrationalor perverse, wilfully high-handed, or seeks to gain advantage from theemployer’s position of power over the employee. The abuse of managerial discretion is another possible target for this sortof claim. Beware, for instance, of operating bonus and other incentive schemesand appraisal processes in secrecy. Transparency in how bonuses are awarded andthe process underpinning the appraisal system will be key to avoiding claims. In short, it seems there is potentially a risk attached to any decision thatputs the employee in a difficult or impossible position without giving them thechance to put his case. On the disciplinary and grievance side, there are things employers can do tominimise exposure to potential claims. Ensure comprehensive disciplinary andgrievance procedures are in place, and that those responsible for operatingthose procedures are adequately trained. Delay in managing a problem will be a crucial element in mutual trust andconfidence claims, especially where it has an adverse effect on the employee.There are likely to be more stress and psychological injury claims arising fromsituations where the employer has dithered over a grievance, disciplinaryhearing or investigation. Employers must make sure they manage decisively. Partner Karen Seward and professional support lawyer Sheila Fahy are membersof Allen & Overy’s employment, pensions and incentives department t Trust me, I’m an implied termOn 1 Mar 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Two chances left to attend a day on safety

first_imgIOSH is working in partnership with DuPont UK, Personal Protection, 3M UKand Respirex International again to offer members the opportunity to attend ‘Aday on safety’. Complementing the theme of the European Health and Safety Week (13-17October) on hazardous substances, the seminar is aimed at safety professionalsin industry and public services. With a combination of speaker presentations and practical sessions, theevent will provide invaluable information on legislation, and the correctselection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Subjects covered will include the principles of risk analysis, choosingsuitable PPE, respiratory protection and selection and the use and maintenanceof chemical protective clothing. Delegates can also take part in a hands-on workshop in small groups to lookat practical problems in the use of PPE. Two seminars have already taken place in Cardiff and London, but there aretwo more chances to attend this highly informative event. On Thursday, 20November, it will be held at Liverpool Football Club, and on Thursday, 4December, it will be at the Riverside Stadium. The seminars cost £35 (including VAT) per delegate, and places in Liverpooland Middlesbrough are strictly limited. Administration is being undertaken byThe McOnie Agency on behalf of the sponsors. To book, please call Alison Green at The McOnie Agency on 01483 487661,or visit Previous Article Next Article Two chances left to attend a day on safetyOn 1 Nov 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more