Friday, 26 February 2010

Brits: Your employer owes you over £5,000 for unpaid overtime

According to figures published by the TUC, if you're an average Brit putting in unpaid overtime you would only start being paid from today if you'd done all your unpaid work at the start of the year!

However, if you're one of those who clock up over 10 hours a week, you'll have to wait until April 26th before the money hits your bank account.

Last year more than five million workers did an average of seven hours 12 minutes of unpaid overtime every week, worth £27.4 billion, or £5,402 each, according to the TUC.

Press Association: Rise in workers' unpaid overtime

So how do we compare with our colleages across Europe? An exact comparison is difficult to make, as there are different rules and thresholds in place, but many countries have imposed maximum overtime limits and these are highlighted below. (Information derived from European Industrial Relations Observatory Online)

Maximum 5 hours per week

No maximum

Maximum 12 hours over 4 weeks

138 hours over a 4-month period

180 hours per year or set by collective agreement

Varies between sectoral agreements.

3 hours per day spread over 43 hours

200 hours per year

250 hours per year (or lower by agreement)

None, but there are overall statutory daily, weekly and quarterly working time limits

200 hours per year

4 hours per day, 150 hours per year

80 hours per year

None, but there are overall statutory weekly working time limits

None, but there are overall statutory weekly working time limits (from which individuals may 'opt out')

As TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has stated: "Staff are understandably doing all they can to help their company recover from the recession - and bosses should thank them for going that extra mile, but working time still needs to be properly managed. A long hours culture is bad for workers' health and family life - whether the hours are paid or not."

OK. Confession time for HR Case Studies readers: how much unpaid overtime are you putting in?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Bullying gets political: allegations against Brown, Tory Communications Director already heavily fined for bullying

The media frenzy concerning allegations of bullying by Gordon Brown will inevitably throw this week's spotlight on what sort of behaviour is appropriate in the workplace, regardless of whether that workplace is 10 Downing Street or the neighbourhood children's nursery.

The decision of Christine Pratt of the National Bullying Helpline to claim that members of the Prime Minister's staff had contacted her charity not only politicises the issue of bullying, but also demonstrates the importance of confidentiality in such cases, together with the damage that can be done when breaches of confidentiality occur.

It's also inevitable that questions will be raised over how altruistic such anti-bullying services can be, especially when they are linked to legal practices deeply involved in potentially lucrative litigation against employers.

And the editorial team of HR Case Studies wonder how long it will be before a link (however tenuous) is made between the allegations against Gordon Brown and the fact that Andy Coulson (who is Conservative Leader David Cameron's Director of Communications and Planning) has already featured on the pages of this humble blog. In his former role as editor of tabloid newspaper News of the World, Coulson was judged to have displayed a "consistent pattern of bullying behaviour" towards one of his sports reporters. Due to his behaviour, the News Of The World was fined £792,736 by an employment tribunal. It is believed to be the highest payout of its kind in the media.

Coincidence: or something more sinister?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Shell shareholders are revolting!

Readers of HR Case Studies will already be aware that there have been a number of pay protests at company annual meetings in recent months, raising concerns over the level of executive remuneration including excessive bonuses.

Shareholders have made their feelings known at the annual general meetings of Royal Bank of Scotland, BP and Shell.

It will be interesting to see how Royal Bank of Scotland and BP respond to the example set by Royal Dutch Shell now that they have announced their decision to freeze the pay of  top management following a shareholder revolt last year. In May 2009, 60% of Shell's shareholders voted against its remuneration report at its annual meeting.

Consequently, today, Shell has the salaries for its chief executive and chief financial officer are being frozen until 2011. The company said it wanted to "demonstrate appropriate restraint in the current economic environment".

Shell will also award bonuses based on how well projects are delivered, rather than its previous measure of total shareholder return.

BBC: Shell freezes pay for top managers after revolt

Over to you RBS! Let's see if you follow suit!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Quick! Somebody get me a paramedic with sensible socks, shiny shoes and a tucked-in shirt (and clean religious headgear!)

I dare you not to laugh at this.

Avid followers of HR Case Studies will already be aware that senior management within North West Ambulance Service have decreed that socks with images of cartoon characters, or days of the week are "inappropriate" and "unprofessional", and therefore must not be work by front-line staff. Novelty sock lovers who work for the service could face disciplinary action if they continue to wear them on the job.

But the fashion police have now gone one stage further.

Staff must now also ensure their green shirt is tucked in at all times, footwear must be issued by the trust and be fully polished and religious headwear should be "clean and laundered."

BBC News: Ambulance crews face 'silly sock' discipline

Confession time: did you snigger when reading this?

Technorati feed confirmation ZWF632WUYY4Y

Monday, 8 February 2010

Fabio Capello, Pope Benedict, Football and Equality Legislation

I need help with this one!

I know that the Brits are a strange and inconsistent race at the best of times, but our attitude to football and religion is addling my brain.

First of all, last week the Pope urges Catholic bishops in England and Wales to fight the UK's Equality Bill with "missionary zeal", and gets well and truly slagged off (OK, by the usual suspects) for daring to suggest that those in ecclesiastical authority should be able to choose who they want in senior positions.

The Pope

Then, as a result of his off-field antics of dodgy morality, Fabio Capello strips John Terry of his England captaincy, stating "I have to take into account other considerations and what is best for all of the England squad." And, lo and behold, around 75% of the UK population say that they are in agreement with Capello's decision.

Fabio Capello

So the head of one Italian organisation is pilloried for advocating adherence to a strict code of morality, but another Italian bloke gets a round of applause?


Saturday, 6 February 2010

Let me through I'm a paramedic (wearing inappropriate footwear)

What a weird world we live in!

As readers of HR Case Studies already know, American HR Managers are kept awake at night by the thought of bare legs, but here in the United Kingdom the most significant business issue to be occupying the minds of management strategists isn’t Business Process Re-engineering, Return on Investment for Learning and Development Programmes or the challenges created by Generation Y, but something much, much more important: the wearing of novelty socks.

Uniformed staff within my local ambulance service have been barred from wearing socks with images of cartoon characters, jokes and garish patterns after bosses (i.e. those who clearly know about these matters) have declared them to be them "unprofessional". OK, the strict uniform policy issued by North West Ambulance Service, also extends to a ban on wrist watches, visible body piercing, excessive make-up and certain tattoos. But nevertheless, staff have been warned they could be disciplined and ultimately even sacked if they flout the dress code which forms part of their terms of employment.

As one would expect, the decision has polarised opinion:

On the one hand (or should that be foot?) a spokesman for the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel, said: "I am a firm believer in having a dress code but this is stretching the rules too far. The majority of staff wear boots so their socks can't even be seen.”

But on the other hand/foot management insist the code is designed to ensure health and safety standards are met, and includes bans on clinical staff wearing wrist watches and some jewellery because they can carry germs or injure patients: "We expect our staff to wear uniforms provided and do not feel that novelty socks with slogans and images are appropriate for presenting a professional image to patients and members of the public.”

Personally, I’m not sure that when I’m being resuscitated by a paramedic after my rapidly-approaching heart attack I’m going to be too concerned by the Homer Simpson socks.

Ambulance chiefs threaten to sack paramedics who wear novelty socks

  • Over to you, dear readers. Is this professionalism or have North West Ambulance Service put their foot in it?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Influential study of HR Managers establishes link between dandruff and outstanding performance

OK, not really!

But the HR world seems to be following the current fashion for reporting on surveys and studies covering just about every conceivable area.

To give you an idea of the spread of these pesky creatures, only one of the following items is NOT a study or survey that has been released over the last few days. Any idea which one?
  1. Fish oil pills prevent schizophrenia
  2. Boys from minority backgrounds are more likely to smoke when they feel they are being discriminated against
  3. Apologies go down better through the right ear
  4. There's a link between internet addiction and depression
  5. There's not a link between internet addiction and depression
  6. Physical exercice helps mice brains grow
  7. Shoe design may have changed the way we run
  8. Readers of HR Case Studies generally believe that they will keep their New Year's Resolutions
  9. Bees can recognise human faces
  10. 60% of workers inted to leave their current job when the recession ends
  11. Eating porridge for breakfast can reduce the risk of asthma
  12. Blonde women are more aggressive than brunettes
  13. Left-handedness is an increasing trend among UK HR Directors
  14. Female maths teachers can transmit anxiety about the subject to female students
  15. Americans can tell whether a person is a Democrat or a Republican just from their picture
  16. Spanish-speaking mothers are less likely to turn on the TV
  17. Straight-A students are a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder
  18. 70% of HR managers confess to having rejected candidates just because of their online profile
  19. UK job satisfaction has decreased despite the recession ending
  20. Cutting speed when driving increases your life expectancy

It depends what you mean by . . .

Professor C.E.M. Joad was a somewhat eccentric British philosopher and broadcaster who achieved a high level of popularity through his regular appearances on The Brains Trust - a 1940's antecedent of Any Questions. Most of his answer to questions were prefaced by the immortal words, "It all depends on what you mean by . . ."

Those words certainly need applying to the recent (OK, last month, but we've all been busy!) publication of the Management Today "Most Admired Company" Award. Guess who's top? BSkyB!

Admittedly, as Management Today (under pressure!) confess, "the awards aren't chosen by judges, at least in the traditional sense - it's all based on a peer review survey," but here are the scores on the doors:

  1. BSkyB
  2. Tesco
  3. Johnson Matthey
  4. Cadbury
  5. GlaxoSmithKline
  6. Rolls-Royce
  7. BP
  8. BG Group
  9. Diageo
  10. Cobham
Management Today: BSkyB is Britain's Most Admired Company 2009
Right. Time for a different view
Covalence are a Swiss-based organisation that track the ethical reputation of multinational companies, and produce a regularly updated ranking of such organisations.
The criteria that they use in determining ranking are largely based on the contribution of multinational enterprises to human development globally, with particular attention paid to the needs and realities of developing countries.
Here's how the Companies on the Management Today "most admired" list fare when a different set of measures are applied! Interesting that on that basis, BSkyB would be bottom of the list, not the top! The list shows where each company ranks in the list of 581 multi-national companies assessed by Covalence. 
  1. BSkyB 323
  2. Tesco 97
  3. Johnson Matthey 299
  4. Cadbury 26
  5. GlaxoSmithKline 29
  6. Rolls-Royce Not Listed
  7. BP 130
  8. BG Group 308
  9. Diageo 39
  10. Cobham Not Listed
Covalence Ethical Ranking 2009
  • What do you, dear reader of HR Case Studies, think is worthy of admiration in a company?

Monday, 1 February 2010

I won't be in work today because my mother-in-law didn't die at the weekend as expected

Apparently today is National Sickie Day; the day of the year when most employees are likely to ring in and lie through their teeth about why they won't be in work.

Seems that 350,000 employees are expected to ring in and make their excuses today, and the likely cost to the economy could be in the region of £30 million.

According to the DailyTelegraph, part of the fault lies at the door of the weak and feeble managers who are too easily conned by employees who send in their pathetic excuses ("the road outside my house is too busy to cross") by e-mail and text. Seems in the good old days the super-sleuths of the UK could easily sort the malingers from the genuine moribund by talking to them on the phone.

Daily Telegraph: National Sickie Day: peak number of staff call in 'ill'

  • Today's challenge: what the worst excuse for absence you've heard (or given!)