Traffic charge to drive up cost of hiring staff

The start of congestion charging in London next month is expected to make
recruitment and retention of the capital’s emergency service staff, shift
workers and the low paid more difficult.

From 17 February, traffic passing through the centre of London will be
subject to a £5 daily fee by the Greater London Authority (GLA), enforced by
hundreds of high-tech cameras.

According to Charles Cotton, rewards adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel
and Development, almost all employers are refusing to foot the bill, and say
the charge is a cost workers will have to bear. However, many HR professionals
fear the cost will drive potential and existing staff elsewhere.

Mike Griffin, HR director at Kings College Hospital NHS Trust, said the
charge will hit NHS and public sector employers hard.

"For many shifts, public transport is not a suitable or safe option.
[The charge] will make working in London much less attractive," he said.

"We are just outside the zone in South East London, but it will affect
those workers who need to drive through the zone."

Griffin said the trust will shift its recruiting focus to areas not
affected, and is encouraging staff to lift-share.

Ian Young, HR director at Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, said there were
situations where staff could claim back the cost from the GLA – including
transporting patient notes, drugs or bulky materials. But he said the system is
tied up in red tape.

Most nine-to-five, office-based employers say the charge will have little

The GLA claims the charge, to be levied Monday to Friday, between 7am and
6.30pm, will reduce traffic and raise millions each week to be re-invested in
London’s transport system.

By Quentin Reade

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