This week’s news in brief

Work helplines double

The availability of workplace helplines has doubled over the last 10 years,
according to research by Industrial Relations Services. Two million employees
(7 per cent of the workforce) are covered by employee assistance programmes,
based on providing counselling and advice via the telephone, the study found.
"Firms are increasingly turning to helplines for reasons ranging from
being seen as a caring employer to their systematic role in stress and absence
management programmes and in trauma response initiatives," said Philip
Pearson, editor of IRS publication Employee Health Bulletin.

UK second in exports

The UK was the world’s second largest exporter of services, after the USA,
accounting for 7 per cent of global exports figures just released for 1998
show. Financial services increased between 1997 and 1998 to contribute £6.3bn
to the UK’s surplus, with other business services and insurance services also
strongly in surplus, according to the Office for National Statistics. The UK
was the fourth largest importer of services, accounting for 6 per cent of
global imports, with deficits in transport, travel, communication and
government services. Well over a third of service imports were for transport.

Site for job flexibility

A web site dedicated to flexible working opportunities has been launched by
a recruitment company. SwiftWork.com was set up following research by the
Henley Centre that predicted that a quarter of all workers will work from home
by 2020 and that permanent jobs will be replaced by temporary project-based
contracts. "SwiftWork.com is designed to facilitate the changes we are
going to see in the way we work. Our site is the first to specialise in the
recruitment of highly-skilled professionals in search of part-time or flexible
work," said managing director Lynette Swift.

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