Business news in brief

Claims advice day

The Sheffield branch of the Engineering Employers’ Federation has become so
worried about sickness absence and unfair dismissal claims resulting from
mismanagement that it is running a seminar for employers. The body, which
represents more than 400 engineering plants across South Yorkshire and the
North Midlands, will hold a one-day event on 22 February to examine legislation
and case law and to provide practical help. Contact: 0114 268 0671

Ford to axe 1,350 jobs

Volunteers for redundancy are being sought after Ford announced 1,350 job
losses at its Dagenham plant in Essex. The move comes after professional staff
voted to strike in protest at pay and pension arrangements. Ford of Europe
chairman Nick Scheele said the job losses were part of a "major European
restructuring".

Lukewarm response

The Government is only meeting "lukewarm" hostility from employers
towards changes introduced in the Employment Relations Act, research by
Middlesex University Business School has found. While a majority of employers
"disapprove slightly" of most of the measures, a minority approve of
extending maternity leave and granting time off for family emergencies, despite
the likely negative impact on business. The survey of 487 employers found
measures that have met the most opposition are: the provision of three months’
unpaid parental leave; reducing the qualifying period for unfair dismissal to
one year; and trade union representation.

Massive take-up rate

An IT recruitment agency that offered shares in the company to encourage
contractors to register with it has signed up 8,000 people in 24 days. Spring
IT Personnel, which relaunched as Spring.com on 17 January, offered cut-price
shares to people joining before midnight on 9 February, in a bid to secure people
with valuable IT skills to work for its clients. To be eligible for the shares,
contractors have to commit themselves to working for the agency for two of the
next three years.

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