This week’s letters

Monitoring e-mail couldn’t be easier

I read Paul Nelson’s article urging the Government to give guidance to
employers about accessing employees’ e-mails (25 March, 2003) with a wry smile.

Turn to the first benchmark of ‘Monitoring Communications’ in part three of
the code and its simple recommendation is" "Establish a policy on the
use of electronic communications and communicate it to workers." What more
can the Information Commissioner add?

Employers should set their own rules (perhaps, dare I suggest, in
consultation with employees), based on business need and the relevant
legislation. It is hard to argue against a reasonable contractual policy
brought in for a good sound business reason that makes it clear to employees
the extent to which they can use private e-mail, the boundaries of that use,
the level of privacy that they can expect and the measures that an employer
might take if the employee breaches the policy.

Derek Kemp
Chairman, Human & Legal Resources

Money women also oppose flexibility

‘Flexible working bad for business say money men’, that was the headline (15
April). How sexist.

Lots of finance directors are women.

Carol Terry
HR manager, The Scotts Company

Publishing training crisis exaggerated

I was concerned by the impression given in the article headed ‘Publishing
training in crisis after SSC snub’.

However sad – and, indeed, irritating – the disenfranchising of the
publishing national training organisation as an interface with Government must
be for all the publishing industries, I cannot accept that ‘publishing is in a
training crisis’.

From our perspective, as the body representing the £6bn magazines and
business media sector, the closure of the Publishing NTO is clearly a
disappointing outcome. Publishers have invested a large amount of time and
resource in bringing about its creation as the umbrella body for training
across our diverse £30bn sector, employing 300,000 or so people.

However, publishers have a commendable track record for maintaining industry
training arrangements and have strongly supported and funded over many years,
for example, the Periodicals Training Council (for magazines and
business-to-business media), the Publishing Training Centre (for books and
journals), and the National Council for the Training of Journalists (for
newspaper journalists), along with a number of other respected programmes.

Magazine and business media publishers will continue to work with their
opposite numbers – in national and regional newspapers, books and journals,
directories and databases, newsletter publishing, and print and online media –
to help employers to interface with the Government on training initiatives.

Hopefully the Sector Skills Development Agency will, in due course, find a
way to facilitate this. In the meantime, I assure you it will be ‘business as
usual’ on training in the publishing industries.

Ian Locks
Chief Executive, Periodical Publishers Association

Tribunal lottery is a complete farce

Having read the article ‘CIPD against merger of tribunals’ (25 March), I am
astonished that Mike Emmott believes the current employment tribunal system
"has the confidence of both employers and unions… and… deals fairly with
the issues it deals with".

In my 15 years’ experience as an HR manager in a variety of environments, I
have found the tribunal system to be a lottery, dependant more upon the
prejudices and whims of the panel than on common sense or even, shock horror,
what the law actually says.

Why else would my company have got as far as being called to answer a basic
unfair dismissal claim when the applicant clearly had only seven months
service? Why else would I have had to respond to a claim for unlawful deduction
from wages that was clearly two months out of time? Why else would my company
have been called to respond to a claim that an employee had been denied the
right to be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing when clearly the accompanier
had been in the room and involved at every stage?

It is no wonder that the tribunal system is overworked when the lame, lazy
and litigious of this country are not discouraged from these ridiculous claims
at application ‘response’ stage.

"The system works and has the respect of the parties that use it"?
I don’t think so.

R Gilmour CIPD
HR manager

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