Letters

This
week’s letters

Without
overtime the UK plc would grind to a halt

Let
us get rid of pointless forms that monitor the hours worked.  Nobody should be forced to work overtime,
just as nobody should be forced not to. And HR has better things to do than
complete more paperwork (Features, 13 July).

An
average working wage for an average worker in my experience seems to be between
£5 and £8. If there was no overtime I don’t know how some people would cope.

Cut
the politics, cut the red tape, cut the ability to sue at the drop of a hat.
Let’s get back to what is necessary – a decent job, decent work and a decent
week’s pay.

Annette
Smith
HR/administrative manager (family member and individual), Peerless Europe

DIY
law is a clear recipe for disaster

An
anonymous correspondent on these pages appears not to understand anything about
discrimination or unfair dismissal law (Letters, 29 June). Their remarks about
employment lawyers have made me conclude that leaving the law in their hands
would lead to some very large claims being made against their company.

I
agree that employment law is a specialist and complex area. So it’s best left
to the specialists.  How many employers
expect to be able to deal with their tax issues without an accountant?

I
would recommend all employers to look to their trade associations for
specialist help and advice. That’s what they and their lawyers are there for.

Anne
Copley
Solicitor, head of legal, BPIF

Unjustified
attack over job screening

I
was surprised to see you highlighting some conclusions from a recent survey by
a hospitality industry recruiter – that London hoteliers are not screening
employment candidates for security risks (News, 16 July).

The
headline, ‘Hoteliers fail to take terrorism threat seriously’ was not justified.

In
my experience, in this and other service industries, very few employers screen
adequately for anything at all. Hoteliers’ apparent lack of focus on security
risk is no greater than with other aspects of employment. Moreover, the
statement that ‘airlines (and other parts of the travel industry) are rigorous
with their pre-screening processes’ simply does not hold up now. The extensive
outsourcing of ground-based support services, has been shown many times to be
very vulnerable to penetration by miscreants and investigative journalists.

The
underlying point raised by recruiters Indago is, nevertheless, a very pertinent
one. The solution, however, lies more in better top-down management commitment
to security and risk-free operations throughout the business, than simply with
the better screening of new hires.

Brian
Walling
Principal, Brian Walling International

No-one
has the right to sickness absence

The
issue of staff attendance has received a lot of press lately, but I was
extremely surprised by the naïve advice offered by HR Hartley on the management
of sick leave (June 22).

The
majority of organisations have had in place processes and procedures that do
exactly what Hartley recommends. However, it is both naïve and wrong to talk
about the number of sick days a person is entitled to. An employee does not
have an entitlement to any sick days.

If
someone is too ill to attend work then they are entitled to benefit from their
employer’s occupational sick pay scheme, but their contract of employment requires
them to attend work on each day that they are able.

It
is hard enough persuading employees that they have no entitlement to a specific
number of sick days without finding HR professionals adding weight to their
argument.

Ian
Brandwood
Director of HR, West Yorkshire Probation Service

Homeworking
is not cut-price childcare

I
am writing regarding ‘The Cranet Survey’ (News, 22 June).

Whenever
there is a picture of someone working at home there always seems to be a child
in the background. This implies that working from home can be combined with
childcare.

This
is misleading. No-one who has young children would claim that reading more than
one paragraph of a report is possible if your children are alongside you.

Please
be realistic when selecting images. Working from home is an excellent option
given the right circumstances, but I would not include a shortage of childcare
as one of them.

Details
supplied, Wolverhampton

Graduates
do have clue about the law

A
recent letter writer, Bill McAllister, said ‘graduates [are] clueless on
employment law’ (22 June). I beg to differ. Surely he is generalising.

I
completed an MSc in HR and industrial relations four years ago at the
University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, and an intrinsic
part of the course was an in-depth module on employment law, taught over a
10-week term for three to four hours each week. The subject lecturer was a
qualified barrister, we attended and reported on an employment tribunal, and we
were examined on the subject in our final exams.

While
I would never claim to be fully conversant with the intricacies of employment
law, I do feel that I, like the other graduates of the MSc course, developed a
sound understanding of the principles of it, thereby enabling us to avoid
fundamental legal errors in our daily work and to understand the importance of
seeking appropriate professional advice when necessary. Following on from my
MSc, I also completed the Dibb Lupton Allsop diploma in basic employment law.

Any
HR course worthy of accreditation by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and
Development should have employment law at its heart – I am sure that most do.

Robert
Bound
Senior HR officer, Control Techniques Drives

Worried
about lack of stress policies

It
is reassuring that the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is encouraging
organisations to tackle the causes, rather than the symptoms, of workplace
stress (News, 7 July). However, the fact that so few companies are formalising
their approach to stress management is indicative of its complexity and
something that worries one employee will leave others unaffected, providing no
clear-cut solutions.

Getting
to the root of this means understanding employees’ psychological contracts.
These reflect what the individual values most in their working lives and it is
this area, if experienced negatively, that will induce the most stress.

All
psychological contracts are unique, but their nature typically parallels the
factors identified by the HSE as the main triggers of stress. Assessing an
organisation’s improvement in these areas can best be achieved through open
dialogue with employees, during which their individual perspectives can be
discussed in detail.

Bernard
Cooke
Consultancy Team Leader, OPP

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