Global HR round-up

Europe not doing enough to end to in-work poverty

Not enough is being done by EU institutions to raise people in work out of poverty, a European Commission report has warned. The report said that while “low pay is obviously an important risk factor… being low-skilled and remaining in unstable and often part-time employment, can also lead to poverty”. One-income households with one or more dependants are also at risk. The report said there were also concerns about self-employment, but that data was unreliable because of “under-reporting [of] income”. It wants further investigation into why workers’ earnings are “not sufficient to lift them and their households above the poverty threshold”, using new commonly agreed EU statistical indicators. Having a job helps people avoid poverty in the UK, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland and Germany, where it reduces the risk by two-thirds, while in The Netherlands and Luxembourg it improves things only “slightly”.

Swiss recruiter turns over old leaf to end brain drain

A recruitment firm in Switzerland has been set up with the objective of using older workers, not sidelining them. Sebastian Vallbracht, a German who studied at the University of London, said the idea for VMVO Senior Expert Consultancy emerged when he was a student and noticed that recruitment consultants trying to hire young talent were not much older than the candidates. “There was something wrong with that concept,” he said. “What struck me was that they had little experience themselves.” He discussed this with his professors and was encouraged to start a consulting business. “The current business trend of forcing highly qualified experts into early retirement as a cost-saving measure is worrying, and has proven to be a bad strategy in the long run,” he said. So far Vallbracht has signed up about 110 senior experts for specific projects.

Fourth time lucky for North American legal recruits

North American law firms make job offers after the candidate’s fourth interview, according to a survey of lawyers among the 1,000 largest law firms and corporations in Canada and the US carried out by recruitment firm Robert Half Legal. Multiple interviews were reported to give more people a chance to be involved in the hiring process, look beyond a candidate’s skills and to get the right personality fit. IT recruiters and managers also average four interviews before hiring. These include a peer panel to examine how the candidate would fit in with the team, using hiring managers who look at the candidate’s skill set, and HR representatives to look at motivation and the ability to fit in with the corporate culture.

Hasty e-mail leads to maladministration charge

An investigation by the European Ombudsman has shown how a hastily composed e-mail can get an employer in trouble. The ombudsman has ruled that the European Investment Bank (EIB) was guilty of maladministration and breaking its code of good administrative behaviour. A job applicant had sent job enquiries to 18 EIB unit managers, which were forwarded to the bank’s head of HR, prompting him to reply (in French): “He has gone completely mad.” The comment was mistakenly forwarded to the applicant. The head of HR then wrote to the applicant, saying that he would “be grateful if you could refrain from [the ‘scatter gun’ approach] which is not bound to be in favour of your application”. The applicant was rejected and complained about his treatment. The ombudsman said: “This could be understood… as constituting a threat [and] frequent requests for information did not entitle the bank to threaten to reject this application.”

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