…in brief

This
week’s news …in brief

Pension
cash crisis

Millions
of company pensions are under threat because of a cash crisis caused by
employees retiring earlier and living longer. Speaking at the National
Association of Pension Funds conference last week, chairman Peter Thompson
claimed that many employers that are operating defined benefit schemes are
closing pension schemes to new entrants because they are experiencing an
increase in contributions.  www.napf.co.uk

Airtours staffs’ writ

Holiday
company Airtours is facing claims that could total £750,000 from five former
directors. The ex-employees have issued a high court writ claiming breach of
contract and unfair dismissal, and intend to take the company to employment
tribunal. Each of the former directors is seeking more than £100,000 in damages.

Cross-border
answer

Employers
are undermining the UK’s business competitiveness by not addressing the skills
shortage through recruiting abroad, according to recruitment consultancy TMP
Worldwide. Over 75 per cent of the 350 managers surveyed believe cross-border
recruiting would ease skills shortages. 
www.eresourcing.tmp.com/stockholm

Formula
for sick days

The
Prison Service has unveiled tough new measures to reduce its high levels of
staff sickness. A new formula is being used to assess absence records, which
multiplies the frequency of periods of absence by the total number of days
away. Martin Narey, director general of the Prison Service, said, "Staff
sickness levels are currently unacceptably high at an average of about 14 days
a year per officer."  www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk

Firms’
confidence fall

Business
confidence among small and medium-sized manufacturers in the UK has fallen
dramatically since the beginning of the year. The balance of businesses that
felt optimistic about their prospects fell from plus seven in January to minus
30 in April, according to figures from the CBI. During the past three months,
manufacturing output fell at its fastest rate since October 1999.  www.cbi.org.uk

Bonus
knocks morale

Employers’
unwillingness to consult staff on how bonuses are determined undermines the
motivational benefits of such schemes, according to research carried out by the
Industrial Society. The report, called Bonus Payments, shows that only 15 per
cent of employers consult with their staff representatives on the design of
bonus schemes.  www.indsoc.co.uk

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