This week’s letters

Absentees will not co-operate

The Information Commission’s Records Management Code will damage absence
management (News, 10 September).

Although around 90 per cent of employees will gladly give permission for
their employer to keep sickness data, the 10 per cent displaying unacceptable
levels of absence will not. It is this 10 per cent that we need to continue to
monitor and control.

It will be an admin burden for HR that would fail to address the problem in
the end. Levels of absence will duly increase.

Andrea McPherson
Personnel officer, Amer Sports UK

Hands tied over sick level cuts

I would be interested in the Information Commission’s advice on how we can
monitor absence while avoiding coming into conflict with disability
discrimination laws?

We will certainly have to request far more medical reports than are
presently necessary.

Also, being able to monitor sickness specifically by type is a useful way to
study health problems in any particular area, such as flu viruses. Does the
Information Commission suggest we ignore the potential risk to other employees?

I am convinced that without the ability to monitor sickness, it would
certainly prove more difficult for employers to be proactive in reducing
sickness levels.

Jan Caulfield
Personnel officer, Billericay Dental Supply

Proposals a path to schizophrenia

What a nonsense on sick pay absence. Normally, like most in the profession,
one stoically adapts to such changes without comment.

As far as I understand it we are not only allowed to keep detailed records
of sickness for Statutory Sick Pay purposes, but are also required to by law,
as evidence that we comply with SSP-related legislation.

Does this mean that HR doesn’t get access to these from the payroll
department without the express permission of the individual? I’ll have to
remind myself in future because I manage both functions.

Mike Sveikutis
Personnel officer, Selectus

Staff gifts can be a real turkey

A poorly selected gift for employees can cause long-term staff demotivation
(Guru, 10 September).

Lady Archer’s former PA, Jane Williams, has taken her to employment tribunal
for alleged unfair dismissal.

Williams claimed that Archer presented her with an inch of flat champagne
from a previously opened bottle on her birthday and a designer watch from
Calvin Klein – with ‘Made in China’ etched on the back. She labelled the gifts
"insulting and embarrassing".

Their relationship continued to deteriorate until Archer dismissed Williams
last year.

The case highlights that employers that give inappropriate gifts do more
harm than good.

Staff should be given the freedom to choose their own gifts, instead of
being subjected to watches, pens or Christmas turkeys.

Jonathan Haskell
Managing director, Longservice.com

PC policing taken much too far

Yasmin Shai’s letter (3 September) issue regarding the use of the phrase
‘bastard child’ demands a response. Surely there are far greater issues to

I am a bastard child. I was well brought up to work hard, do my best and be
honest and truthful. I do not take offence at phrases such as bastard child,
four-eyed freak, or any such other insult. I do not know anyone in my
neighbourhood who does.

We are so careful now to be politically correct we are all in danger of
tripping over our tongues. We should not have to examine every word or action
for fear of inviting a law suit.

The way in which a term is used, and its implication, is far more important
than the term itself.

Annette Smith
via e-mail

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