HR news you may have missed over the Christmas break

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Today is the first day back at work for many people after as much as a fortnight away from the office. We look back through the past two weeks’ employment and HR news for the stories you may have missed over the festive period.

Living wage campaign creates commission
The Living Wage Foundation is creating a commission of experts to lead efforts to encourage more employers to pay the living wage, three months ahead of the introduction of the Government’s compulsory national living wage. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, the bishop of Edmonton, Rob Wickham and Nestle UK chair and CEO Fiona Kendrick are among those on the eight-member commission to be chaired by Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Resolution Trust.

Sports Direct bows to pay pressure
Following criticism of its employment practices, Sports Direct announced that it will pay its staff more than the minimum wage. Controlling shareholder Mike Ashley declared: “I want to see Sports Direct become the best high street retail employer after John Lewis.” But trade union Unite accused the company of a PR stunt.

CBI warns of apprenticeship levy impact
The new boss of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, has warned that George Osborne’s apprenticeship levy could cause significant job losses in sectors such as retailing. She also warned that increased costs caused by the national living wage could stall economic growth.

Junior doctors’ strikes back on the cards
This week saw last-ditch attempts to resolve the pay and conditions dispute between the Department of Health and the British Medical Association (BMA) break down, with the BMA’s announcement that junior doctors will go on strike on 12 and 26 January and 10 February.

Immigration is driving down wages
Economists at the Bank of England have found that increases in immigration have reduced pay on offer to care workers, waiting staff and cleaners, as competition in these sectors has risen. The bank calculated that a 10 percentage-point rise in the proportion of immigrants would reduce the average pay received in these semi-skilled and unskilled service sectors by nearly 2%.

Employee engagement strong at six out of 10 organisations
Three-fifths of organisations have employee engagement levels that are either good, very good or excellent, according to new research by XpertHR. More than a quarter (29%) of organisations described engagement levels as “reasonable”, while they are described as “poor” or “very poor” at 11.3% of employers.

Women’s academic success not affecting gender pay gap
The UK’s gender pay gap remains “stubborn”, with women’s educational success not being carried through to the workplace, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned. Female graduates will earn less than men, even if they have studied the same subject.

CIPD warns of optimistic pay forecasts
Predictions by the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility that average earnings will grow by 3.5% in 2016 are optimistic. Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, predicts a figure of 2%, in line with XpertHR’s forecast for pay awards among UK employers.

Number of job vacancies hits post-recession record
The number of job vacancies in the UK has hit 1,244,772, the most since the recession. The number of advertised vacancies in November 2015 was almost one-third higher than the same month in 2014, according to data from jobs search engine Adzuna.

Dutch city plans to pay citizens a basic income
The Dutch city of Utrecht is taking steps towards paying people a salary whether they work or not, an idea also floated by the UK’s Green Party. Advocates say it would allow people to choose what sort of employment they take, and to retrain when they wish.

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