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Proposed Employment Law Reform Shows a Common Sense Approach to Workplace Disputes

New proposals published by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, outline radical reform to the employment law system. As always, we need to see the detail before we can give an informed opinion, but in principle the proposals show a common sense approach to tackling workplace disputes. This is potentially great news for all but especially for small businesses. The highlights of the proposal include;

Unfair Dismissal Increasing the qualification period for unfair dismissal pr otection from one to two years.

Compromise Agreements  The Government will create a  "standard text" for compromise agreements, with guidance and will  change the name of compromise agreements to "settlement  agreements" in primary legislation.

Protected conversations In 2012, the Government will consult on  the introduction of a system of "protected conversations" that  would allow either employers or employees to initiate a discussion about  an employment issue "at any time...as a way of resolving the matter  without fear".

Mediation and early conciliation The Government is now further convinced about the role that mediation can play in dispute resolution. It intends  to introduce a requirement for all potential tribunal claims to be lodged  with Acas, to give the parties a chance to resolve the matter through  early conciliation. The basic early conciliation period will be one  month.  

Modernising tribunals Intention of streamlining procedural code that  addresses concerns that the Rules have become "increasingly complex  and unwieldy over time".  

It’s expected that some of the changes will come into force as early as April 2012.





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Proposed Employment Law Reform Shows a Common Sense Approach to Workplace Disputes

New proposals published by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, outline radical reform to the employment law system. As always, we need to see the detail before we can give an informed opinion, but in principle the proposals show a common sense approach to tackling workplace disputes. This is potentially great news for all but especially for small businesses. The highlights of the proposal include;

Unfair Dismissal Increasing the qualification period for unfair dismissal pr otection from one to two years.

Compromise Agreements  The Government will create a  "standard text" for compromise agreements, with guidance and will  change the name of compromise agreements to "settlement  agreements" in primary legislation.

Protected conversations In 2012, the Government will consult on  the introduction of a system of "protected conversations" that  would allow either employers or employees to initiate a discussion about  an employment issue "at any time...as a way of resolving the matter  without fear".

Mediation and early conciliation The Government is now further convinced about the role that mediation can play in dispute resolution. It intends  to introduce a requirement for all potential tribunal claims to be lodged  with Acas, to give the parties a chance to resolve the matter through  early conciliation. The basic early conciliation period will be one  month.  

Modernising tribunals Intention of streamlining procedural code that  addresses concerns that the Rules have become "increasingly complex  and unwieldy over time".  

It’s expected that some of the changes will come into force as early as April 2012.





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THE PECKING ORDER - Edinburgh Evening News, Recruitment Section

THE PECKING ORDER  - Edinburgh Evening News, Recruitment Section

IT’S not surprising that the overall nature of relationships in the workplace is often described in terms of a pecking order. Watching chickens has helped experts to understand human
motivations and interactions. That’s doubtless why so many words and phrases in
common parlance are redolent of the hen yard: “pecking order,” “cockiness,”
“ruffling someone’s feathers,” “taking somebody under your wing,” “getting in a
flap,” coming home to roost,” just to mention some.

While there is rarely an official pecking order within a work team of peers, when someone gets promoted, the whole dynamic can change. Once good relationships may be disrupted and overall levels of productivity can contract alarmingly as a result. High staff morale
levels may be dangerously reduced.

Every situation is unique. If the newly promoted person is moved to a different department, the outcomes are more easily managed. If he or she suddenly becomes team leader rather than peer within the same group, it’s more difficult.

Ashlie Turner is Director of Edinburgh-based Magenta HR and is a highly experienced personnel manager who advises companies on HR strategy and a range of associated issues, including guidance on people management in the workforce.

She believes the newly promoted individual may be inclined to over-assert their authority: “Especially in a short-term situation, such as maternity cover, there’s a likelihood that those
who are over-focused on their own self-reward, on winning all the praise, are
most likely to have a problem.

“I find it very interesting that the psychology of those who are most successful are those who are not looking for that but are looking at the team spirit. If the team is successful and is
rewarded for that, then of course that reflects on the success of the team leader as a manager. That allows you to maintain those relationships without losing the respect of your team members.

“For those who want to own all the ideas and take the praise themselves, the situation will be much more tense. Your former colleagues probably won’t respect you in your new role and may well resent your input into critical areas like performance reports.”

A lot of tension can come from a highly competitive environment where several people in the same team have applied for the promotion and just one is successful. The net result may well
be that the successful individual feels forced to leave the company or in a larger organisation, seeks a transfer.

According to Edinburgh-based relationship counsellor, Barbara Matheson, the best way to avoid this kind of conflict is to be empathetic: “Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel? A lot of the issue lies around fear of change. People are afraid that you’re
going to change in the new job. My advice is to have a conversation with each person on the team explaining that you’re still the same person but in a new role with new responsibilities.

“You need to explain what that new position means and establish it with each person – what do you expect from them and what they can expect from you. People will respect you for that
transparency. It’s a kind of ‘contracting,’ so that the ground rules are clear on both sides.”

The risks, Matheson believes, come with newly promoted personnel who fail to address the change with colleagues: “A lot of the coaching I do is around relationships with people in the
workplace and the resentments, often unspoken, that can build up and fester. You need to pre-empt, to take the initiative. Don’t allow people to sit around worrying about how things will change. Explain it from the start.”

It is important not to be put off seeking promotion out of nervousness over colleagues’ reaction, says Ashlie Turner: “I think it’s about thinking long-term. Things will work out and you will establish yourself in your new role. You may not be there that long and be in a transition stage but if you don’t go for it, you may have missed an important opportunity. Go with the flow in the meantime.”

Interestingly, this seems to be a aspect of working life that women find more difficult than men to deal with. Perhaps because, speaking generally, men don’t tend to have as intense personal relationships with work colleagues as women do.

“If you’re accustomed to going off for lunch with your colleagues every Friday and suddenly you’re excluded because you’re now the boss, then that can be very difficult. Men seem to take that more in their stride as an inevitable part of working life where we women are more inclined to take it personally. While the girls bank up resentment, the guys seem to be more likely to try and tackle the problem.”

MAGGIE STANFIELD Pub. 13 October 2011

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Communication is Key to Long Term Absence Reduction

Long term absence of staff is rarely a straight forward matter to deal with. The longer a member of staff is absent,
the more daunting returning to work can be for the individual. There are several actions that can be taken to manage the employee back to work successfully, all of which involve regular communication and input with the employee. These four
simple steps are amongst the most effective;

  • Maintaining regular contact on an informal  basis with the employee via home visits or telephone calls to ensure
    neither party feels out of the loop
  • Seeking  advice via an occupational health physician  to ensure the employee can return
    to work in a safe capacity without adversely affecting their health
  • Facilitating a phased return to work over a period of time, gradually building up working hours/days 
  • Taking reasonable steps to be flexible in your approach to their  return by altering  working hours, responsibilities  or
    location short term

Whilst staff absence can cause considerable disruption to work, especially for smaller businesses, it is better to work together with the individual to plan a flexible return to work if at all possible rather than face further absence and additional costs. For
more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. www.magentahr.com

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New Government Guidance on Public Sector Equality Duties

The Government Equalities Office has recently published guidance detailing specific public sector equality duties. The guide gives examples of the kind of information that public bodies should publish and  issues that they should consider when setting equality objectives. These are set around the three aims of the Equality duty; eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic. Click on the link to see the full report and view areas of best practice. 

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/equalities/equality-act-publications/equality-act-guidance/specific-duties?view=Binary

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