This week’s letters

A tipping point for reward?

The decision of the CIPD to create a certificate in reward management (News,
17 February) marks a watershed in the development of the UK personnel function.
It recognises that reward has established itself as a discrete specialism and
acknowledges a responsibility to populate the marketplace with competent

Unlike the US, with separate professional institutes serving trainers, generalists
(SHRM) and compensation practitioners (World at Work, formerly the American
Compensation Association), UK reward practitioners have felt bereft of
continuing professional development.

For organisations, the exponential growth in demand for capable reward
practitioners has merely exhausted the talent pool and created significant pay
differentials. By extension, this talent pool is increasingly replenished by
those without a background in personnel, such as accountants and actuaries.

I am passionate about re-stocking the reward talent pool with seasoned
personnel practitioners – those with the breadth and insight to be the
‘guardians of motivation’.

Effective reward managers of the future will not be ‘back office’
compensation and benefits specialists. They will be those who understand the
circumstances in which employees deliver discretionary effort and who are able
to deploy a body of knowledge to create and sustain employee engagement. This
is a much higher calling than the mediocre ambition to deliver compensation and
benefits solutions designed to ‘recruit and retain’. Recent developments within
the CIPD invite generalists into this arena. They also create a chance for
reward practitioners to develop a depth of insight and capability sufficient to
make a seismic difference in the places they work.

Mark Childs
Vice-president, Reward, CIPD

Employee is the final arbiter for pensions

I bristled at the quote from David Yeandle of the Engineering Employers’
Federation (News, 17 February).

If HR is to be encouraged to lead, it must question received wisdom about
pensions, which have failed a large swathe of the working population.

I question the quote from the EEF: "As members are the ultimate
beneficiaries of these insurance arrangements, it is only reasonable that
employers should be able to share the cost of financing the PPF by recovering
at least part of the levy from members". Broadly true, except for the
phrase "ultimate beneficiary", as though employees were the sole
beneficiaries of the operation of a pension scheme. Take time to consider how
employers have benefited from pension schemes.

– In recent years, companies have been taken over for the value of their
pension surpluses

– Some employers have reduced their own pension costs by running off
surpluses over many years and/or taken pension holidays

– Employers running contracted out pension schemes have paid lower NI costs
for many years

– Are there not tax exemptions on corporation tax for contributions into
pension schemes?

– For schemes that close for insolvency, the company has to make up the fund
to the minimum funding requirement level if it can, not to the accrued benefit

– The winding up of a final salary scheme in insolvent companies can fall on
the members for administration costs, often running into millions of pounds

– The shortfall in the fund is met by the active members

– The debt to maintain retired members is met by the active members

– Pension funds are now taxed more heavily by the exchequer.

Approaching this business as though it is garnished in favour of the
employee is a false start. Many employees are going to fall outside the
compensation scheme and may have lost much of their life’s pension with no
redress. Rancour on this issue will be deep and long lasting.

It is good to have a compensation scheme but it has unfairly divided the
working population. How many still in final salary plans appreciate they are no
longer the gold standard in pensions and can still pose great risks to members?

It was confirmed by the Goode Commission that the surplus belonged to the
employer because it was the final arbiter in making the fund good. Experience
in many schemes has demonstrated that the employee has been the final arbiter
for pension schemes and that he or she had no pension holiday or contribution
reduction in most cases.

Christopher Hore
Personnel manager, Crest Packaging

Key is understanding membership’s role

I have been reading the ongoing debate in Personnel Today about the
necessity of being fully CIPD qualified to enter the tough HR market. I have
been in a role for five years with a wealth of experience and am partly CIPD
qualified. Studying via flexi-learning, and funding myself, has been enormously
challenging along with the busy hours of an HR role.

I recently started looking for a new role commensurate to my abilities and
experience, which would also offer me greater room to continue with my CIPD
studies. I have been shocked by the ineptitude and arrogance of the HR
recruitment agencies I have tried to use. I have not dealt with a single agency
that has offered anything resembling a service.

If anyone is responsible for the impossibility of finding a role without
being fully CIPD qualified, it is not the CIPD but the HR agencies and their
daft sculpting of an employment market that insists on all candidates being
fully CIPD qualified.

Are our colleagues in the HR departments that we seek to enter so deluded or
myopic that they will only accept chartered members of the CIPD for their positions,
often offering salaries that ought to be considered for entry level roles let
alone positions demanding three to five years experience and full CIPD?

I have worked long enough in the field to know that many of the HR openings
could ably be filled by new entrants to the CIPD field, albeit with some
training and mentoring.

The solution to this problem is not to berate the CIPD or its standards, but
to encourage our colleagues to talk to their recruitment consultants about
their vacancies and to explain to them what CIPD qualifications mean alongside,
and in relation to, experience.

Details supplied

No qualification can prepare you for HR

In my experience, many employers ask for a CIPD qualification without really
knowing what it means. They think it will guarantee they get someone capable.
In my 22 years in HR, I have found no qualification that can prepare you for
the real world of HR.

Michelle Bailey
Interim HR manager, The Rubicon Corporation Ltd

CIPD of little benefit to the experienced…

I empathise with Gina Patterson’s criticism of the CIPD qualification
(Letters, 17 February).

I graduated with a business and law degree six years ago and I am now an
experienced HR adviser, looking to take the next step in my career – into HR
management. I have already stumbled at the first hurdle, as I do not have the
CIPD qualification. I too found the course commitments difficult while working
full-time, and the fees are expensive.

In my experience, the CIPD qualification is often the only ‘essential’
criteria in job ads, even for positions requiring minimal experience. The one
thing that really annoys me is that, on the occasions I have challenged a
recruiter’s specific requirement of the CIPD qualification for a role, they are
often unable to even tell me what the content of the course is, let alone what
its benefit would be to a particular position.

I have no doubt that to someone starting out on the career ladder, with no
experience, the CIPD course would be beneficial, but to a seasoned professional
with references backing up a solid work career, I can find little benefit.

Tamasine Hickey
Details supplied

… But you won’t get far in HR without it

I am very surprised by Gina Patterson’s comments (Letters, 17 February). It
must be frustrating to find you have studied the wrong degree and will have to
study some more. But don’t blame the CIPD or undermine its reputation and

If you knew that you wanted a career in HR, you should have done your
research and chosen a post-graduate course that was CIPD accredited in HR
management. It is tough holding down a full-time job and studying at the same
time, but many of us chartered members have done it.

The benefits of being part of the CIPD are too many to mention here. Take a
look at the CIPD website and the recruitment pages of Personnel Today. You
won’t get far in your HR career without CIPD membership.

Lorren Price
Details supplied

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