Letters

This
week’s letters

Equality
can’t rely on comparisons

I’ve
read your coverage of equal pay policies and felt I had to make some comments
(News, 6 March).

I
work in the NHS as an administration manager, dealing mainly with the personnel
issues of 300 staff as we have no personnel department.

Having
fought tooth and nail to get office staff re-graded, I have some experience of
the problems of the principle of equal pay. The trouble is there are no men
doing these jobs, or anything similar, for comparison. There are no male receptionists,
medical secretaries, ward clerks or general administrative staff, so these
employees’ salaries remain appallingly low.

How
can you move away from male equivalent comparisons? If you can’t, the majority
of women will never be on a par with men’s pay as women congregate in these
“female” type of jobs.

Sally
Ashworth
Administration manager
Ross Community Hospital, Ross-on-Wye

Voluntary
policy would be ignored

You
suggest that the offer of flexible working for parents should be voluntary
(News, 27 February). This is a good way of ensuring that it does not happen
except in those cases where there is a clear benefit to the employer.

Experience
shows that voluntary codes do not work, a recent example of this being the age
discrimination code of practice. This has not even been adopted by
government-funded bodies such as universities.

Les
Jones, Via e-mail

Given
a choice, small companies will not implement family friendly working.  Being a full-time working single parent, I
would welcome legislation that forces firms to have such policies.

Marilyn
Maidment
HR manager, Acequote.com, Cardiff

Your
fountain pen is so last century

I
have recently started reading Personnel Today and I am confused. I was told it was
at the cutting edge of the HR industry and has fully accepted electronic
communication as the way forward.

So
why does the writer of the Letter of the Week receive a fountain pen? Is it a
reminder of the good old days, or did you get a job lot just before Personnel
Today moved into the 21st century?

Eileen
Wood
Human resources administrator, Europ Assistance

Agencies
have to protect business

I
run a recruitment agency employing over 40 people. It began in 1989, grew
through the recession and is now being seriously threatened by proposed new
regulations being introduced by the Minister for Competitiveness, Alan Johnson.

The
DTI is determined to limit recruitment agencies’ ability to charge a fee when
someone it has supplied as a temp is subsequently employed directly. Originally
it wanted to ban such fees entirely, and later to limit the restrictions after
the end of a booking to a maximum of four weeks.

The
minister now proposes to reduce the maximum protection period to only eight
weeks after the end of an assignment, rising by up to six weeks in the case of
short bookings.

We
deal with markets that use professional freelance workers. Placements are
generally short, repeat bookings for the same worker are the norm and gaps
between bookings of more than the proposed quarantine period are common.

Our
average cost incurred in advertising, interviewing, testing and administration
for each new applicant runs into thousands of pounds. With costs like this
repeat business has to be protected.

It
is hard to see how we will be able to continue our service unless Johnson comes
to his senses and changes these disastrous proposals.

Steve
Gibson
Workstation Solutions

Evaluating
NEDs crucial to success

Re
“Call for better training and pay for non-execs” (News, 30 January). Although
non-executive directors have brought much value to many boards it would be
wrong to claim that their contribution is universally recognised.

Our
research suggests that they are most effective when their brief is clear and
understood by all the board – an obvious comment, but not always common
practice.

With
an expanding role, the NED needs to spend more time in the organisation –
infrequent board meetings and attendance at the annual strategy review are no
longer enough.

Training
is often not given since the holders are usually experienced business people. A
greater time commitment will bring demands for higher remuneration, especially
when one considers the legal responsibilities of the NED are not significantly
different from those of the ED.

Evaluating
the NED’s contribution is crucial. However, it is surprising that in so many
cases assessment does not occur. It is interesting to speculate on the HR
department’s responsibility to ensure this most fundamental management
procedure applies to the top of the organisation.

Paul
Smith
Consultant coach, Penna Executive Coaching

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