Video game industry staff-sharing scheme may cause HR problems

A pioneering staff-sharing scheme aimed at preventing redundancies in the video games industry could cause an administrative headache for HR if not managed properly, experts have warned.

Game developers association Tiga, which is launching the project next month, said companies would log on to a dedicated jobs board to quickly add available staff to projects when needed, but equally, surplus staff would be free to work at a rival employer on a secondment.

Lorna Evans, project manager at Tiga, told Personnel Today: “Instead of people facing redundancy, they can be shared with another company. Employers will be able to retain good staff in the long term.”

However, lawyers warned the scheme could lead to an administrative burden for HR if the terms and conditions of the secondment were unclear, including which employer had responsibility for pay, poor performance and holiday entitlement. Developers may also need to sign confidentiality agreements.

Alex Lock, employment partner at Beachcroft, said: “There must be a robust secondment agreement between the two employers over their respective rights and obligations, and with the employee as to how they will be managed.”

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, cautioned employees could choose to stay with their temporary employer unless clear contracts were drawn up.

Employers in the video games industry, which faces tough competition from abroad, where developers can be offered tax breaks, were more optimistic.

John Duthie, head of HR at Realtime Worlds, which created Grand Theft Auto, backed the scheme as it would help the firm save money and retain their top talent during the recession.

“[The scheme] could be a smart business move for employers to avoid redundancy costs and re-recruitment costs, and it could save a lot of upset for staff,” he said.

The jobs board will be launched in mid-July. Tiga is consulting employers on how the secondments will be managed.

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