This week’s letters

SARS advice is not to compel staff to take unpaid leave

In response to the article on employers’ responsibilities regarding staff
travelling to SARS-affected areas (‘SARS epidemic could create legal
minefield’, 29 April 2003), I would like to clarify the CIPD’s position.

I was asked by your interviewer what the position would be if the Government
introduced a compulsory period of quarantine and employees voluntarily went to
a SARS-affected area on holiday, knowing they would not be able to return to
work. I replied that, in those circumstances, employers "might feel
justified" in requiring the quarantine period to be taken as unpaid leave,
but that the legal position was not clear.

We would not recommend that employers should compel employees to take unpaid
leave where they are required to take time off in such circumstances. The
situation with SARS is clearly evolving on an almost daily basis, and the CIPD
advises that employers should closely monitor the advice given by the

Diane Sinclair
Lead adviser, public policy, CIPD

Nobody wins in cat and mouse game

The fact that employers struggle with over-complex legislation comes as no
surprise (News, 22 April). The companies most affected have failed to get an
effective information management system in place, which allows complete control
over regulatory information. This includes HR legislation. In such cases,
increasing red tape becomes a type of cat-and-mouse game, where nobody wins.

What the article lacks is a solution. Rather than complain to the
Government, or pin the blame on Brussels, employers need to be proactive.

Companies need to implement systems so they can manage the information
overload effectively. By disseminating this to the right people, they can
ensure consistent and accurate information is always available and regularly

By keeping on top of legislation, using the correct systems, employers can
ensure they take appropriate action before issues get taken out of the office
into court.

Paul Ellis

Napping on the job is hardly flattering

I was interested in your Guru article on staff taking a nap (29 April).

A friend of mine was running an internal training session when she realised
a delegate had fallen asleep. Deciding to save the delegate embarrassment, she
continued speaking. The delegate slept for an hour – only waking when she started
to snore.

Helen Boardman
Training and development manager, Addleshaw Booth and Co

Practical experience scores over theory

I have been a licentiate member of the CIPD for a number of years. I remain
one because I refuse to spend unnecessary time and money resitting exams which
are purely based on theory, and do not have any real relevance to the skills
required for a position within HR/personnel.

Has this stopped my professional career? Of course not. Years of experience
are far more valuable than textbook theories. The only real benefit I ever
found was the experience of studying with fellow students. Again, any good
networking system would increase this. I feel let down and deserted by the

Jean Dugmore
via e-mail

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