Business fears over a hung parliament look set to have materialised as the final election results pile in this morning.
No party looks set to win an overall majority at the polls, meaning the UK is on track to have a hung parliament for the first time since 1974 – leading to employers' concerns about the potential for an unclear mandate regarding the economy.
At the time of writing, about 37 seats are yet to be declared, but so far the Conservatives have gained the largest majority of votes at the polls, with a forecast 36% share of the vote and a gain of 91 seats since 2005.
Labour is on course to become the second largest party with a 29% share of the vote – meaning it would lose 85 seats – and the Liberal Democrats are set to have the third largest share with a forecast 23% share of the vote and a loss of 6 seats.
Last month, a British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) study found 65% of 300 firms were "concerned" or "very concerned" about the potential for a hung parliament. Just 13% thought that the outcome would be a "good thing".
Political rules state that where voters choose no decisive party, the current government has the first right to try to form a coalition with other parties. However, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has previously stated he believes it is the right of the party with the largest number of seats and votes to try to form a government.
Clegg, as he returned as MP for Sheffield Hallam this morning, said: "This has obviously been a disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats. We simply haven't achieved what we had hoped. I'm nonetheless proud of the way we conducted the campaign."
Tory leader David Cameron said it was "clear that the Labour government has lost its mandate to govern this country" as exit polls showed Conservatives on track to win the largest number of seats.
Occupational psychologist Binna Kandola has given his psycho-analysis on the three party leaders in three five-minute podcasts.
He looks in detail at the three leaders' performances during the election campaign, including an analysis of prime minister Gordon Brown’s over-reaction during Duffy-gate - the furore surrounding his unguarded comment that pensioner Gillian Duffy was a ‘bigot’.
Kandola sums up the three key strengths and weaknesses:
Strengths: 1) Values driven 2) Conscientious 3) Delivers the goods
Weaknesses: 1) Suspicious of other people 2) Disempowers other people 3) Too thin-skinned
Strengths: 1) Good team leader 2) Organised 3) Gets things done
Weaknesses: 1) Lack of vision 2) Prevaricates under pressure 3) Potential for arrogance
Strengths: 1 Values driven 2) Sense of vision 3) Articulate
Weaknesses: 1) Potential for jumping from one idea to another 2) Charm and desire to be centre of attention could lead to being manipulative 3) Question mark over whether he can deliver
Post from Noel O'Reilly, Occupational Health editor.
Voting in the general election 2010 gets underway in less than 24 hours, and the polls continue to suggest that there is all to play for. What is certain is that - whichever party or coalition of parties ends up in office - swingeing public spending cuts can be expected, to help tackle the UK's record budget deficit. But even as the last day of campaigning gets underway, the exact nature and extent of planned public spending cuts remains uncertain. In a new post on XpertHR's Employment Intelligence blog, I look at what we might expect from public spending cuts, and the role that HR could well find itself playing in enforcing them.
Yesterday, Gordon Brown stated that if the Labour party wins the 2010 general election, the national minimum wage "will reach £7 [per hour] on reasonable assumptions by the end of the Parliament". In a new post on XpertHR's Employment Intelligence blog, I look in detail at this 'promise', and how likely (or otherwise) it is that this goal might be achieved.
With less than 48 hours to go until the polls open, time is running out for the UK's politicians to weigh in with the gaffes that make can make election campaigns entertaining. So far, there have been just two heavyweight contenders - one each from the leaders of the two traditional main parties.
Last week, Gordon Brown weighed in with some off-the-cuff but nonetheless on-the-record comments (referring to Rochdale resident Gillian Duffy as a "bigoted woman"), which gave rise to what the twittering classes termed "#bigotgate".
A few weeks prior to that (on Friday 16 April 2010), David Cameron got his retaliation in first with comments that might be of particular interest to readers of Personnel Today, describing the Metropolitan Police's HR department - and, by implication, the HR profession as a whole - as "form-fillers".
CIPD CEO Jackie Orme expressed mild displeasure at Cameron's comments. Via Twitter, Orme described them as "not helpful" and stated that she has written "to David Cameron offering meeting to raise awareness of crucial role of pub sec HR in driving delivery in a decade of austerity." One week later (on Friday 23 April 2010), she sent me a message via Twitter, to the effect that she has heard "nothing yet from David Cameron - he must be focused on other things!" It remains to be seen how this one develops…
In the meantime, I'd be very interested to hear your views on these gaffes, or to receive submissions for any other of your "favourites" (or otherwise) that I might thus far have overlooked - please feel free to leave a comment!
Economic recovery struggles on, but conditions are volatile as the election approaches: weak growth, public spending cuts and possible public sector strike action await the next Government. This is according to the latest overview of UK economic prospects for employment practitioners and pay setters from XpertHR Salary Surveys.
Indeed, leaked comments from Bank of England governor Mervyn King suggest that victory in the 2010 general election could prove a poisoned chalice. US economist David Hale reports that King privately told him that "whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be."
The focus on immigration in this election campaign leads to one outstanding question: whatever happened to the government's revered Leitch Review which was designed to equip the nation's workforce with world-class skills?
Surely any business would much rather recruit locally available and talented people than master the complex points-based immigration system. But the fact is many employers still argue that you simply cannot get the skills here. They insist they need to go abroad, and any party proposal to either cap immigration (Tory), limit migration to less crowded regions (Lib Dem) or simply make it more difficult to enter (Labour), just delays the inevitable need to hire foreign workers.
The Leitch Review dates back to 2006 - during which Lord Leitch insisted that employers and government must work together to 'skill up' UK workers, so that we can compete with emerging countries like China and India. Our reliance on employing skilled non-EU workers would drop as long as we were producing home-grown talent - in theory.
But still the election campaign is dominated by talk of how many migrant workers come to the UK, rather than whether those who do add value and skills that Brits can't match.
As Keith Luxon, HR chief at water management firm Veolia Water puts it: "The ideal solution for most businesses is to have a skilled workforce locally available to hire from and the parties would be better to focus on practical policies on training and up skilling the millions of people who lack adequate skills to prosper in the modern economy rather than arguing over numbers to be allowed in.
"The Leitch proposals seem to have disappeared without a trace in the last year or so and this is a great shame."
Luxon concedes that where skills shortages genuinely exist, and they cannot be filled locally, it's more important that they are filled at all rather than left empty hindering businesses' chance of growth.
"The hurdle to justify going outside the available talent pool should be high but once satisfied artificial restrictions shouldn’t be in place," he says.
Emma Vernon, HR adviser at accreditation body APM Group, agrees. "We do need to initially focus on British jobs to start off with," she says.
She advocates the Labour system, which in recent months has required employers wishing to fill jobs with overseas workers advertise in Jobcentre Plus first for four weeks. "Labour introduced a point system and the necessity of placing roles in UK based job agencies initially, this seems to take it one step further and I believe rightly so," she says.
Whichever party wins the election, they need to get serious about nuturing home-grown skills - for the sake of the economy and jobs.
The XpertHR Group provides detailed guidance on what the three main political parties' manifestos for the general election 2010
have to offer:
BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders argues that for all their
differences, the Labour
and Conservative manifestos share some key characteristics when it
comes to the economy:
"Neither of them makes any further contribution to public
understanding on how Britain's budget deficit is going to be cut. And
they both leave plenty out." According to Flanders, both manifestos are
designed to avoid mention "of the fiscal upheaval we face in the next
In contrast, the Liberal
Democrat manifesto (PDF format, 865.9K) includes tables setting out some
broad details of its proposals on tax and spending.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, little more
in the way of detailed economic promises emerged from last night's third
televised prime ministerial debate
, despite its ostensible focus on the economy.
The economy - and what is to be done to enable ongoing recovery while
tackling the UK's record £163.4 billion budget deficit - has rightly
emerged as the key issue
in the election campaign, and has been hotly debated. But here the
phrase "sound and fury signifying nothing" would appear relevant. Last
night's third televised prime ministerial debate was a case in point:
little more in the way of detailed economic promises emerged, despite
its ostensible focus on the economy.
In a new post on XpertHR's Employment Intelligence blog, I look at just why the three main
political parties might have been so hesitant to go public on their
plans for post-election austerity measures - which are likely to include
swingeing cuts to public spending.
The chances of Nick Clegg becoming a children's TV presenter if he is unsuccessful at the polls next week are pretty slim.
But that is one of the options a recruitment agency has outlined for him in a campaign to get people to vote for politicans' next jobs after the election (that is, if they're not PM by then).
Mr Brown - having called a pensioner bigoted yesterday - has been signposted to launch an anger manger consultancy, presumably where he would be its first customer.
And Dave? Well a PR consultant of course, setting up something like Cameron Communications.
They had better start dusting off their CVs.
Supermarket leaders have again attacked Labour's planned National Insurance hike in 2011 after a newspaper article suggested the increase was unlikely to lead to a 'tax on a jobs'.
A Guardian analysis of the accounts of some of the biggest UK companies showed that the last time a percentage point was added to the cost of national insurance contributions (NIC) - in 2003 - employment had increased.
But the business leaders stand by their original concerns that increasing NIC "makes no sense" at a time when the UK should be pushing for economic recovery.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King, said: “Sainsbury’s has been growing jobs, because we are a strong growing business. As can be seen the tax on these jobs has been increasing dramatically over the years, even before the current proposed rise. At a time when we should be pushing on job creation and our economic recovery, taxing jobs still further makes no sense.
“I have been on record with this now for two years and will happily support any proposal, whichever party makes it, to reverse the current proposed rise.”
Meanwhile Marks & Spencer said its decision to support the Conservative policy was based on the impact that the proposed future rate rise would have, not on the historic influence that rate changes have had.
A spokesman said: "We simply don't agree that figures from 2003, a boom time for the UK economy, are comparable with those for 2009, where an unprecedented recession had a profound long term effect on the economy."
The Tories claim they have more than 100 executives who support their plans to reverse some of the planned rise in NIC.
Duncan Brown, director of HR business development at the Institute for Employment Studies has written two excellent articles for Personneltoday.com examing the three main parties' focus on pay, pensions and 'fairness' in their manifestos.
The first article looks in more detail at policies on pay - particularly in the public sector - as well as the issue of transparency.
The second article looks at why fair pay policies and pay differentials should matter to HR teams.
Both are well worth a read.
Nearly two thirds of firms are worried about a hung parliament after the election according to a survey of business professionals.
With just nine days to go until 6 May, Personnel Today asked its HR election panel what the major concerns are regarding employment law and other HR matters should there be no overall majority won at the polls.
To read what they said click on 'comments' below - and add your own views.
From Michael Carty, benchmarking editor, XpertHR
Here's a link to my round-up of what the three main parties' manifestos promise on the national minimum wage: http://www.xperthr.co.uk/blogs/employment-intelligence/2010/04/national-minimum-wage-what-the.html. Liberal Democrats arguably most radical in this area, Conservatives most minimal.
From Keith Luxon, HR director at Veolia Water
Retirement used to be something looked forward to and planned for with a fair degree of certainty. Employees in DB pension schemes were able to predict their income and afford to retire at a set date.
Over the last 13 years this has changed and the DRA is probably one of the last relics of this “golden” era. It’s potentially a real shame that uncertainty will be brought into the end of the employment relationship with conflict between employees who want to work and employers who feel someone is no longer performing up to the required level – it means that rather than a gold watch and a handshake much long serving employment will end in the tears of a capability process. This can’t be right.
To cope with this change an entirely new model of employment needs to created enabling those who financially or socially need/want to work to do so but also allowing employers the flexibility they need to drive efficiency and effective workforce plans.
More Posts Next page »