HR news today: Swine flu contingency plans; £15k harassment payout; BBC presenter suspended; Jaguar looks at shut-downs


  • Swine flu: over one-third of businesses have contingency plan
  • Harassment: nurse wins £15,000 after bosses buy her fake boobs
  • Sexual harassment: BBC presenter suspended for behaviour towards female colleague
  • Recession: Jaguar prepare to potentially shut down plants
  • Recruitment: scientists identify the face of successful managers
  • Recession: BA pension manager given £200,000 pay rise


Over one-third of businesses still have no plan for dealing with swine flu pandemic

A Whitehall meeting of emergency services and business chiefs has been told 38% of organisations have no response plans at all for dealing with the effects of the swine flu pandemic.

At the meeting transport businesses also outlined how they would cope with the virus and admitted that staff shortages could lead to reduced services. But Transport for London said reduced services run by fewer staff should not cause concern because there would be fewer people wanting to use public transport.

Business continuity expert Lyndon Bird, who attended the meeting, told the Observer, he was “not convinced” by TfL’s response to the concerns.

He added that he was worried that with hundreds of thousands of people working from home Britain’s digital infrastructure would not be able to cope.

He said BT could not give definitive assurances that the UK’s broadband network could work fully under such conditions.

Last week Personnel Today revealed that the Department of Health is considering plans to allow workers to self-certify their own sick leave for two weeks.



Nurse wins £15,000 after being sent fake boobs as a present following a mastectomy

A nursery nurse who underwent a double mastectomy to beat breast cancer has won £15,000 after her female boss bought her fake boobs as a joke present.

Janet Bryant underwent the operation in 2003 but while she was recovering at home the managing director of the nursery where she worked sent her a pair of fake boobs as a Christmas present.

When Bryant returned to work she said the bullying continued as director Susan Thompson taunted her with comments like “keeping abreast of things”. Bryant was then sacked after having worked at the nursery for nine years.

Bryant told The Daily Mail: “I felt absolutely degraded, it was disgusting. I couldn’t believe it.”

She claimed unfair dismissal and disability discrimination at an employment tribunal. The tribunal judge, John Warren, said: “The tribunal finds this gift was a particularly sick joke, if it was intended as a joke. The claimant was disgusted and appalled by this and very upset.”

As part of her defence Thomson called as a witness a colleague who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome who had been sent toilet roll as a present, but had not taken offence.

Mail | Metro


BBC presenter is suspended for his behaviour towards a female colleague

Hardeep Singh Kohli, the presenter of the BBC’s the One Show, has been suspended for “overstepping the mark” with a female researcher.

Kohli has been suspended for six months after the researcher complained about his behaviour two months ago. Kohli has said he has apologised “unreservedly” for his actions.

He said: “Nobody has accused me of sexual harassment. I recognise I overstepped the mark and have apologised unreservedly.”

The researcher raised her concerns with the One Show’s producers but has not made a formal complaint.

A BBC spokeswoman added: “[Kohli] was reprimanded and immediately apologised. He agreed to take some time away from the show to reflect on his behaviour. This leave of absence has been agreed to be six months.”

Telegraph | BBC


Jaguar draws up plans to shut down plants

Bosses at Jaguar Land Rover are said to be drawing up plans for an extended shut-down of three car manufacturing plants this summer, and a further round of job cuts.

Jaguar, which employs 15,000 people in the UK, had previously avoided shutting down factories by offering staff extended Christmas breaks, asking them to work four-day weeks and cutting about 2,000 temporary jobs.

The HR director of Jaguar Land Rover, Des Thurlby, told Personnel Today in June that using alternatives to redundancies had helped to improve staff engagement.

While the car company has not decided what action to take next to limit their losses during the downturn, bosses are said to be considering the shutdown of three plants during the summer and further job cuts, among other options.

A spokesman for the company said: “We have always said there may be a need in the future to take further action, but there are no plans at present.”



British Airways’ pension manager receives pay rise of nearly £200,000

The fund manager running British Airway’s pension scheme received a pay rise of nearly £200,000 last year, despite the company having one the largest pension deficits of any UK corporate company.

Michelle McGregor Smith, chief executive of British Airways Pension Investment Management, saw her pay rise from £353,909 in 2006-07 to £514,254 in 2007-08.

News of the pay rise comes as the airline calls on its staff to work for a month for free to help limit losses during the recession.The shortfall of the airline’s pension scheme is estimated to be £3bn.



Scientists identify the face of future business leaders

Scientists have found that appearance is as crucial as attitude for successful business leadership.

Experts at Kent University interviewed 200 managers and used forensic technology to identify the attributes of future leaders.

The study found the most successful and trusted male leaders had a pronounced brow and forehead, while women with thin eyebrows, wider eyes and fuller lips were the most inspirational.

Important character traits included a “firm but fair” attitude and encouragement of creativity and flexibility.

Professor Chris Solomon said: “The scientific findings show how Britons think a good business leader should look and behave. They want a candidate with the confidence of experience – somebody who will rise to the challenge and make brave decisions in the current economic climate.”

Scotsman | Metro

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