Letters

This week’s letters


Consensus on meaning of stress


Contrary to your report on my remarks on stress in “Workload piles on the agony for stress sufferers” (News, 5 December) the TUC wholly supports the Health and Safety Commission definition of stress, as did 73

per cent of the people who responded to the HSC discussion document on the issue.

So I think we can fairly safely say that there is a consensus on the use of the term. I was merely remarking to your reporter that we had not required the 9,000 safety reps who responded to our third biennial survey to sign up to that definition before ticking a box on a form!

Work-related stress is a serious problem affecting about one in five workers. Prolonged or intense stress can lead to mental and physical ill health, such as depression, back pain and heart disease. About 6.7 million working days are lost each year, costing the UK economy £4 billion.

So it’s not particularly surprising that two thirds of our safety reps said that work-related stress was a matter of concern in their workplace, whatever definition they were using.

The TUC has seen too many so-called experts demanding a word-perfect definition of workers’ pain before they will condescend to act to prevent people getting hurt, whether the issue is stress, RSI or asthma.

The HSC discussion exercise came up with a perfectly acceptable definition. It’s time we started doing something about it.

Owen Tudor, senior policy officer, TUC


IT pay in Mexico only seems low


In the article “Access all areas: Critical issues for global HR” (24 October 2000), the author raises the issue of inequity in salary levels between countries. In this case, it is put that a programmer in Mexico earns less than a programmer in Silicon Valley.

This may seem unjust and discriminatory but one should also consider the fact that salaries cannot be compared across national borders as various factors and especially cost of living will vary. Perhaps it can be justified that Mexican salaries are lower as the costs are equally lower.

Kent Frederiksen, remuneration & benefits analyst


Guidelines for crime disclosure


I was encouraged to see mention of criminal conviction certificates in relation to recruitment (“Letter of the Law”, Legal, 12 December). However, as a matter of good management practice, employers should be encouraging voluntary disclosure.

I have been running a project in Scotland for just over two years working with employers in all sectors to provide guidance and training on dealing with criminal conviction disclosure.

With the introduction of criminal conviction certificates under Part V of the Police Act 1997, it is imperative that employers have appropriate policies and procedures in place to make an informed decision based on the relevance of the conviction(s) to the post sought. The information should be sought through voluntary disclosure in the first instance and the criminal conviction certificates should only act as a tool for confirming the information received rather than as a tool for de-selection.

While it is important to receive accurate information regarding the candidate’s suitability to the post, it is just as important to be able to interpret the information fairly and responsibly. Employers need to act responsibly when handling this sensitive information and need to know what to do and the context in which to place it to ensure a climate of discrimination and subsequent rejection does not develop.

When the certificates are made available (scheduled for this summer) it is critical that employers have policies and guidelines in place to deal with ex-offender applicants to avoid inconsistencies in the recruitment process.

If employers were provided with guidelines this would go a long way to addressing both the barriers that ex-offenders and employers face when dealing with this issue.

Gillian Wright, employer support consultant, Glasgow

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