Personnel Today’s 2002 Review

has been a challenging year for HR, with a growing amount of red tape, a need
to improve the bottom line in a tough economic market, and a number of
high-profile strikes. Personnel Today looks back at the year

Workers Directive

had to watch while the draft Agency Workers Directive became tougher on
employers as the year progressed.

European Commission directive proposed to give agency workers the same pay and
conditions as permanent employees. Agency staff would be entitled to the same
salaries, work and rest periods, paid holidays, overtime pay and health and
safety rights.

far back as March, UK HR argued that this would raise employers’ costs and tie
them up in red tape.

Commission originally proposed the entitlements should come into force after
six weeks of employment, but many in Europe – including MEP Ieke van den Burg –
were in favour of immediate rights.

October, 71 per cent of the 1,000 organisations surveyed by Personnel Today and
Manpower said that their business would suffer if the EU Agency Workers
Directive was introduced. Almost half predicted that it would damage the
competitiveness of the UK economy.

professionals were angry that rights could be granted from the very start of
the temporary worker’s employment.

month, the European Parliament granted a transitional five-year period for the
UK and Ireland to make use of the six-week exemption – but only in respect of
pay, not any other terms and conditions, and stated that adequate pay must be
provided from day one.

protection and internet monitoring

professionals were left hanging on a string by confusing and delayed data
protection guidance, while internet misuse and problems with new technology
continued to escalate.

Information Commission drip-fed its guidance on The Data Protection Act 1998,
which outlined employers’ responsibilities when handling staff information.

July, a Personnel Today and Websense survey revealed that one in four companies
had sacked staff for internet abuse, with 43 per cent of firms experiencing web
abuse every month.

months later another study, by Personnel Today and KLegal, showed that e-mail
and internet abuse by staff has become the biggest disciplinary problem for
employers. It is now the most common disciplinary offence – with more
incidences than dishonesty, violence and health and safety breaches combined.

Information Commission released the first two of four codes – on recruitment and
employee records – but they were said to be confusing.

final two codes, on monitoring and medical records, have been delayed until the
new information commissioner Richard Thomas takes over the position this month.

new plans by the European Commission to give staff more rights to privacy at
work could confuse the situation even further.

month the EC announced it had started a second consultation for legislation on
employment-based data protection, which could introduce more safeguards to
protect staff rights.

Time Directive

moves to end the UK’s 48-hour opt-out following a review of the Working Time
Directive has many employers worried.

Working Time Regulations, based on a 1993 EU directive, have always given
employers and staff in the UK the right to opt out of the 48-hour week.

40 per cent of large organisations in the UK ask staff to sign the opt-out.

the EC could scrap the opt-out by the end of next year, hitting many sectors –
particularly construction, catering, and the NHS – hard.

late November, Personnel Today teamed up with the Employment Lawyers
Association to help the EC survey the views of UK organisations.

European Commissioner responsible, Fernando Pereira, wants to find out how
losing the opt-out will damage business and how it would tackle the long-hours

relations minister Alan Johnson, said the UK must pick up the fight: "We
think the opt-out is good. It is a good balance for individuals to have the
right to work more than 48 hours, but not be forced to do so," he said.


is taking steps towards measuring its own worth, the worth of people, and
fighting for a strategic role on the board.

there is still some way to go with a survey of 300 HR directors showing that 52
per cent think they have a limited influence on the board’s decision-making
process. Just 21 per cent think they influence to a large extent, 19 per cent
think they ‘definitely’ do.

September, a Personnel Today  and
Deloitte & Touche study showed that HR is being held back by its inability
to measure human capital. While many HR professionals say they use
benchmarking, metrics and balanced scorecards, only four in 10 users believe
these methods are successful.

say that most companies are struggling to measure the worth of their people
because human capital is such a complicated asset to value. But, they predict,
human asset accounting will be-come a standard benchmark in annual reports, and
this will create a powerful argument for HR to be included as a key strategic

this in mind, we launched our series Delivering HR Strategy, which is offering
practical guidance on how HR can offer more value.


unions and statistics insist that we are not headed for another ‘Winter of
Discontent’, the profile of strikes soars.

of firefighters, local government workers, teachers, rail workers, theatre
workers, tube drivers, airport staff, benefit office workers, British Library
staff, gallery attendants, and carmakers all walked out in protests this year.

all of this, TUC employment rights expert Sarah Veale told the CIPD conference
that the media was overstating the employment relations problem.

show that in the 12 months to July, 1.1 million days were lost through strike
action. In comparison, however, 29.1 million days were lost in 1979.

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