HR news today: Swine flu absence; RBS loses top bankers; One million part-time workers; Royal Mail strike; BBC accused of stock

This Personnel Today news round-up includes:

  • People off work with swine flu more than doubles
  • RBS loses more than 700 of its top bankers to rivals
  • Recession forces one million to work part-time
  • Royal Mail workers to stage further strike action this week
  • BBC accused of stockpiling Tamiflu to protect its workers
  • Redundancy fears increase for 5,000 Vauxhall workers
  • Porsche boss to receive record £86m severance pay

The number of people off work with swine flu more than doubles

A survey of 1,000 companies last Friday found 177,000 employees were absent with flu-like symptoms – compared with 80,000 the week before.

FirstCare, the absent management company that conducted the survey, urged employers to offer more home-working options to staff most vulnerable to the virus.

The news comes as the government advised pregnant GPs and nurses to avoid seeing patients with swine flu, because they are thought to be more susceptible to the virus.

Last week, Personnel Today revealed the government is set to announce that thousands of public sector workers will be seconded to the Department of Health to run the new National Pandemic Flu Service, to be launched by the end of this week.


RBS loses more than 700 top investment bankers to rivals

More than 700 RBS investment bankers have left the company to work for rival banks after being offered guaranteed cash bonuses and higher salaries.

Some of the traders have been offered at least one year’s salary in cash as a signing-on fee, headhunters have said.

These deals contradict the findings of a government report last week that recommended short-term cash incentives for high performers should be scrapped in favour of bonuses paid over a five-year period.

A number of other RBS bankers have resigned with no job to go to, in protest at the bank’s decision to pay no cash bonuses this year.

RBS executives would have received record bonuses under the bank’s previous remuneration policies. Sources close to RBS have said the bank has now been forced to offer pay rises to key executives to stop them leaving.

Earlier this month, Neil Roden, group HR director of RBS, told Personnel Today he was looking at non-financial rewards and recognition to try to motivate and retain staff.


Recession forces one million to work part-time

Almost one million people are being forced to work part-time because they are unable to find full-time work during the recession, official statistics have revealed.

Over the past year, more than 250,000 extra people who sought full-time employment have had to accept jobs working for four days a week or less – an increase of more than one-third on the previous year.

The figures demonstrate attempts by employers to maintain their workforces during the recession by asking people to work shorter weeks or take extended holidays.

Between March and May of this year, a record 927,000 people were working less than 30 hours a week because they could not find full-time employment – a rise of 38% on last year. The figures include new employees hired on a part-time basis and existing staff who have been asked to work reduced hours.

The figures indicate there were 595,000 fewer full-time workers than a year ago, taking the total to 21.47 million, and 51,000 more part-time workers, taking the total to 7.53 million.


Royal Mail workers to stage further strike action this week

Royal Mail workers will stage another three-day strike at the end of this week, following a national strike last Friday by 12,000 employees.

The strikes will take place on Saturday 25, Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 July in a protest over job cuts, working conditions and modernisation at Royal Mail.

Royal Mail has accused the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which is leading the strikes, of standing in the way of modernisation.

The CWU has said Royal Mail managers are trying to “break the union for good” and said proposed job cuts were “illogical and arbitrary”.

BBC | Financial Times

BBC accused of stockpiling Tamiflu to protect its workers

The BBC has been accused of stockpiling thousands of doses of the swine flu drug Tamiflu to treat its own staff.

The BBC has defended its actions by saying the supply of 4,000 doses was for staff who could come into contact with the virus in the course of their work.

But Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “It is nothing short of disgraceful that a licence-payer funded body is storing away an antiviral that is free on the NHS.”

But the BBC insisted the stockpile was only available to those facing work-related risks – not those who came into contact with swine flu through family and friends.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We have a duty of care to protect staff who may come into contact with infection in the course of their work as far as reasonably practical.”


Redundancy fears increase for 5,000 Vauxhall workers

The jobs of 5,000 Vauxhall workers have been drawn into question after a private equity company said it would cut 10,000 jobs if it successfully took control of General Motors Europe.

RHJ International admitted if its bid was successful, it would axe 3,900 jobs in Germany, but the company would not specify where the remaining 6,100 jobs would be lost from.

The group aims to save £692m a year by cutting staffing levels.

Magna International, the Canadian car parts supplier, has been chosen by the German government as the preferred bidder for GM Europe.


Porsche boss to receive record £86m severance pay

The chief executive of Porsche, Wendelin Wiedeking, will receive at least £86m in severance pay when he leaves the company.

The payment will be the biggest of its kind ever given to an industry chief in Europe.

Wiedeking’s contract runs until 2012 and his severance package would include what he would have earned for the rest of his contract, a share package, a lump sum payment and his pension rights.

Wiedeking is expected to offer his resignation on Thursday at a meeting of the Porsche supervisory committee.


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