Taskforce defends draft proposals on people data

Members of the government taskforce created to highlight the importance of HR to business performance have insisted they are happy with draft regulations for company reporting – even though many of their recommendations were ignored.

In 2003, the Accounting for People Taskforce recommended that human capital management (HCM) should form a key part of the Operating and Financial Review (OFR) regulations. However, in the draft regulations, which are out for consultation until 28 February, employees are only mentioned in passing and there is no reference at all to the term HCM.

The regulations have been broadly criticised by HR and business experts, including the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Deloitte, the TUC and the Chartered Management Institute. More than 330 HR professionals have signed a Personnel Today petition calling for more people information to be included in the regulations.

But Denise Kingsmill, who headed up the Accounting for People Taskforce, told Personnel Today: “I am entirely happy with the emphasis on companies reporting on those matters material to their business.

“My taskforce provided some guidelines for those companies that wish to include people information in their reports, but as the Accounting for People report made clear these were certainly not intended to be prescriptive.”

Fellow taskforce member Jek Smith, senior partner at professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said employees were mentioned three times – as a “resource”, a “particularly key resource” and an example of “significant stakeholder relationship”.

In a letter to Personnel Today, Smith said the taskforce’s report “formed an important input to the Accounting Standards Board (ASB) guidance”.
Taskforce member David Bishop, senior adviser at professional services firm KPMG, added: “I’m fairly happy with the [draft] regulations – the taskforce was all about creating an awareness and understanding of HCM and how important it is.”

But Duncan Brown, assistant director general of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the taskforce had been all but ignored.

“The next to last paragraph in Appendix C (in the ASB guidance) is the only reference to Kingsmill, quoting her saying there is no single set of employee measures – presumably as justification for leaving them out altogether.”

And Richard Phelps, who as partner at Saratoga is a colleague of Smith, said: “There is a strong argument for making information relating to human capital mandatory, because it is so important. I cannot see why the government has left it out.”

Taskforce member Sandra Dawson, a professor at the University of Cambridge, refused to comment when contacted by Personnel Today. The other taskforce members were unavailable for comment.

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