This month’s news in brief

Death rates fall

The number of people killed in workplace accidents has dropped by 5% in the past 12 months, according to official figures from the Health and Safety Commission. The statistics show that 212 were fatally injured at work in 2005-06, compared with 223 in 2004-05. The overall fatal injury rate fell to its lowest-ever level, with 0.71 deaths for every 100,000 workers. Health and safety minister Lord Hunt welcomed the latest reductions, but stressed there was no room for complacency.

Tribunal claims increase by 25%

Arbitration and conciliation body Acas has reported a surge in employment tribunal claims, with 109,712 applications lodged in 2005-06. This represents a 25% increase on the previous year. Unfair dismissal remains the most common area of dispute, with 35,944 reported cases. Acas intervened in 952 employment disputes in 2005-06, a fall of 171 compared with last year.

Minimum wage review urged
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for a review of the National Minimum Wage (NMW), with the forthcoming rises set to add more than £1bn to retailers’ wage bills. The BRC argues that increases since 1999 have averaged 6.7% – well above inflation and average earnings. According to a survey, around 25% of retailers said they were now likely to cut staffing costs. The main rate of the NMW is due to rise to £5.35 per hour on 1 October 2006.

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