This month’s letters

BA substance abuse stance

We share the views highlighted in the article "Taking a Strong
Line" (OH, February) on the importance of drug and alcohol policies in the

British Airways has such policies in place, but contrary to the statement in
the article, we do not conduct pre-employment screening nor random drug and
alcohol testing in the workplace.

The safety of our staff and passengers is paramount, and our OH service
works closely with staff to provide education and support in all areas
affecting health and work.

Managers and peer groups can be highly effective in preventing substance
abuse by raising awareness and providing support, and it is worthy of note that
neither the UK Civil Aviation Authority nor the European Joint Aviation
Authorities require random alcohol and drug screening.

Dr Michael Bagshaw
Head of Medical Services, British Airways

Flexible hours not idleness

My response to TUC senior policy officer Owen Tudor (OH, Letters, February)
is as follows.

Here at MD Foods we implemented an annualised hours system over two years
ago, and spent over 18 months in union negotiations ensuring that we reached an
agreement which suited employer and employee.

Before annualised hours was introduced, MD Foods had drivers working in
excess of 80 hours a week. The average now is less than 40 hours and the basic
salary has been increased.

So, to quote Owen Tudor, MD Foods does, "let employees go home more
often and cut the hours they need to work to make a living."

Annualised hours eliminates the need for excessive overtime in order to
create a "decent" weekly wage. Tudor comments that, "the main
problem for working time in Great Britain is not the way it is organised."
I must disagree, on the contrary, the problem is exactly the way it is
organised. If more companies were to organise their working time better, the
"family-unfriendly" stressful workplace could be largely eliminated.

The working time arrangements employed by MD Foods do give an increased
amount of leisure time, but I doubt that employees see it as "enforced
idleness" as Tudor does.

The success of the annual hours scheme is due to a commitment from both
employer and employee to provide a more flexible working method, and we are
proof that it can create a more productive, less stressed and contented

Stephen Dean
Annualised hours manager, MD Foods

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