Letters from Personnel Today 27 January 2009

Transparency by firms is the key to the Equality Bill

I see that the government issued a rebuttal to the claim that it had re-drafted the Equality Bill to add a clause insisting that all private sector firms publish their gender pay statistics. (‘Government denies rewriting Equality Bill to expose pay gaps’, Personnel Today, 13 January).

The government may not be adding this new clause, but it is well known that measures are being put in place that mean companies will have to start being more open about wages and salary information.

Transparency is the key to the Equality Bill and these recent events prove there is a cultural change afoot, as people are demanding more visibility. This is also gathering momentum now, as companies reflect on every aspect of their business during the recession.

Given the complex nature of the Bill and the huge task involved in the data gathering and preparation of reports on such highly sensitive information, it is worth private firms taking note of this recent news and beginning to plan their processes for reporting.

Proper planning and consideration from the outset could help firms avoid this having a big impact on HR workloads.

Damian Williams, managing director, ROC

Employers should assess candidates’ dependability

I was interested to read that IOSH has spoken out regarding the Health and Safety Offences Act, and agree that UK businesses should be concerned given the severity of the new penalties (‘Health and safety reforms could tip struggling firms over the edge’ Personnel Today, 13 January).

However, while employers can put processes and procedures in place to ensure staff remain safe in the workplace, it can be difficult to control each individual and eliminate human error.

With directors facing £20,000 fines and possible prison sentences, it is crucial that employers also take health and safety into account when recruiting.

It is now possible to objectively assess candidates for ‘dependability,’ predicting how reliable and safety-conscious they are likely to be. In fact, high-s0coring applicants on dependability assessments have been seen by managers to be three or four times safer than those with lower scores.

This could make a big difference and ensure companies remain as safe as possible, while avoiding costly penalties.

John Bateson, group chief executive, SHL

The war for talent isn’t over just yet

Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley’s comments about the ‘war for talent’ being over are interesting (‘War for talent is over as finance sector vacancies slump by 65%’ Personneltoday.com, 14 January).

I would argue it’s not so much that the war has ended, rather that the nature of the conflict has changed. While it’s true there are many more applicants than jobs, this volume doesn’t necessarily equate to a wider talent pool full of required skills.

Current market conditions actually make recruiting the right talent more difficult. There’s a huge amount of jobseeker caution and a feeling of ‘better the devil you know’. Some of the very best people with niche skills – that you would normally expect to move around the marketplace – are staying put.

The challenge for employers and recruitment firms alike is how to attract these applicants for specific roles. This year is going to be defined by a fight to secure pockets of talent for hard-to-fill vacancies through innovative sourcing methods – in other words, guerrilla warfare.

Tom Forrest, associate director, Joslin Rowe Temporaries

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