Record decline in the number of EU migrant workers in the UK
The number of EU migrant workers in the UK has shown its sharpest annual decline since records began in 1997, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The figures found that the number of EU-born workers fell by 4.5 per cent (107,000 people) during July to September 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Businesses which employ a large share of migrant workers should be considering how to move their focus to a lower migration environment. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has revealed that employers are finding vacancies harder to fill due to the decline in migrants coming to the UK since the referendum. More than two in five employers reported it had become “more difficult” to fill vacancies in their companies over the past 12 months. And seven in 10 said some of their vacancies were proving hard to fill.
Research has highlighted the importance of inclusivity in affecting feelings towards our employers
The overwhelming majority of employees questioned confirmed that inclusion is central to them deciding whether or not to remain within their current role.
According to the research, hiring individuals from diverse backgrounds into a culture which excludes or undermines them will result in those employees seeking new opportunities elsewhere. Hiring into an environment in which they are able to flourish will have the opposite effect. If an employee sees other employees who share similar cultures and background then that employee is more likely to feel included.
The survey also demonstrated that there is greater confidence and awareness in younger employees around diversity and inclusion at work. This is borne out by other evidence which suggests that so called millennials will speak out in favour of inclusion at work and will more readily challenge exclusion or bullying than their older counterparts.
HSE injury and ill health statistics published
The HSE recently released their annual injury and ill health report for Great Britain (2017/2018). The findings show that there are still too many workers in the UK being injured.
There were 144 fatal injuries at work this year, with 1.4 million workers suffering from work-related ill health and approximately 541,000 from other injuries. This figure has actually increased from 516,000 on the number from the previous year.
Mental health issues have increased from 526,000 in 2016/17 to 595,000 In 2017/18 with 239,000 recorded as suffering from new cases of work related stress and again is an increase on the previous year’s figures. This shows that there needs to be focus on mental health awareness in the workplace.
In 2016/17 there were 1.3 million work-related ill health cases; meaning this year the amount of workers suffering from ill health has risen. The amount of workers suffering from non-fatal injuries has increased by 1%, and the amount of fatal injuries has also increased from 137 last year to 144 for this year.
The amount of working days lost due to injuries and ill health in 2017/18 was 30.7 million.
Work-related injury and illness cost business £15 billion, which is only a slight increase from last year’s £14.9 billion. The value of fines due to workplace injury and illness has also increased to £72.6 million, with manufacturing being the most widely-fined industry out of all the different sectors.
Have you prepared your snow policy?
Given recent dire warnings that we are in for a harsh winter here is a reminder of employer obligations.
Whilst employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they are unable to get to work because of bad weather it is important to have a clear policy on the subject. Employees need to know what you expect from them in terms of getting to work. The policy should include how to deal with an inability to get to work, leaving work early due to snow and dealing with absence as a result of employees’ children’s schools being closed.
Employers should try to be flexible where possible – for example, considering altering working hours temporarily or working from home.
What is most important that businesses get ready now. Prepare the policy now and publicise it so everyone is clear BEFORE the snow sets in!
Would you be comfortable being a “microchipped” employee?
Thousands of UK employees could be affected by the plans of some firms to microchip their employees in bid to stop them accessing sensitive areas. The business that manufactures the chips claims it is in talks with a number of UK legal and financial firms.
The microchips which are only the size of a grain of sand are injected into the fleshy area between the thumb and forefinger and it is claimed that they can help increase efficiency by speeding up the signing in process at work, or accessing technology such as printers and photocopiers.
This type of microchipping can remove the inconvenience of a forgotten badge of credit card and significantly reduces the risk to data. However, the manufacture offers reassurance by confirming that the device is only readable if the employee is within six inches of a chip “reader”. It is an interesting concept that is bound to create debate in employers – watch this space for further updates as we track those businesses that introduce microchipping of their employees!
Outsourcing has many advantages for business
Many businesses choose to outsource primary functions of their operation. What are the advantages of outsourcing? Having the right external provide managing some aspect of the business is likely to:
- Enable the business to access expertise or resources that are otherwise not available, or affordable, in-house
- Enable the business to take advantage of economies of scale
- Enable the business to re-focus in-house resources and staff on key business objectives
- Make financial savings possible if the supply company can do the work for less than it can be done in-house, taking opportunity cost into account
A critical element of successful outsourcing is to form a meaningful partnership between the outsourcing company and the supply company. This means developing an understanding of what each wants from the partnership and how both can work together to achieve these goals. In order to achieve this the two parties must establish:
- A shared ethos and way of working.
- A shared understanding of the aims and objectives of both parties.
- A vision and a plan for the work which meets the aims and objectives of both parties.
- Who is responsible for managing the work
- The total cost of the arrangement so that there are no nasty surprises.
- Dates for regular review with an open mind about making changes as necessary
- A formal contract which allows sufficient control for both parties and the flexibility to alter objectives when and if needed
Ultimately, effective outsourcing looks at more than simply costs reduction as its goal and is designed through partnership working.
Are your staff up to speed on GDPR? One in five employees aren’t!
A new study has found that almost one in five of UK workers haven’t been given a GDPR policy by their company.
According to the poll of over 1000 UK workers, one in ten didn’t know who was responsible for GDPR at work, while one in five thought it was their manager’s responsibility. Another 10% believe it is up to office managers to monitor confidential data regulations and 6% thought it was up to their board of directors to ensure they were compliant with GDPR.
Despite the looming threat of hefty fines that could cost the business up to £1.22bn, it appears that employees are still taking huge risks with confidential data. According to data gathered from over 1,000 office workers in the UK, over half had seen personal or confidential data they shouldn’t have. Over one third admitted they have left confidential paperwork unattended at work.
And it wasn’t just physical files that were proving a GDPR risk to businesses. Slightly under two-thirds admitted having received an email not destined for them at work since the GDPR deadline in May, while almost half had sent a classified email to the wrong person by mistake.
Recent Health and Safety prosecution resulted in imprisonment
A building company and its director have been sentenced after carrying out unsafe and unnecessary building work.
The company and its sole director were sentenced after a joint investigation by Trading Standards and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a string of health and safety and fraud offences.
In one example an employee was employed to carry out building work on a domestic property. A complaint was made to Trading Standards who instructed an expert to examine the roof. The expert confirmed that the work was wholly unnecessary and that the work done had no value whatsoever. During the investigation Trading Standards also identified potential health and safety issues.
HSE inspectors found that the company was carrying out work at height without scaffolding and that there were no measures in place to prevent employees from falling.
In addition, people were walking on the roof of the house with no safety measures in place to prevent them from falling and the director was present and fully aware of the people working unsafely on the roof.
In another example the Court heard how the business was asked to carry out minor roofing repair work on a domestic property. After inspecting the roof the director advised the homeowner that the whole roof required replacing. A Trading Standards investigation, involving an expert examination of the roof found that the work to replace the roof was totally unnecessary.
The director admitted an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 and an offence under the Consumer Protection from unfair Trading Regulations 2008 in relation to unnecessary work being carried out. He also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
He also asked for 5 other, similar matters to be taken into consideration, including two offences of failing to provide the 10 Year Insurance Backed Guarantee.
The director was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years, ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work and was disqualified from being a Company Director for 5 years. He was ordered to pay compensation to the victims and to make a contribution to the prosecution costs.
Failure to investigate racist remark cost HMRC £24k
The employer of a man who felt unable to return to work after a contractor shouted a racist remark at him in a corridor, was guilty of racial discrimination for failing to adequately investigate his complaints, a tribunal has ruled.
The HMRC employee was subjected to the insult by an on-site contractor at the office where he worked, but HMRC felt that it was more appropriate for the perpetrator’s employer to discipline him and then failed to ensure this had been adequately carried out.
The case focused on an incident that took place in 2016, when a power failure meant the lights went out in the office in Manchester. The employee was walking through a corridor when a facilities contractor shouted at him: “It’s a good thing you’re wearing a white shirt or I wouldn’t have seen you.”
The employee complained but as the contractor continued to work in the office the employee did not feel that he could return to work. He later complained that he was unhappy with the time being taken for the organisation to investigate the incident and confirmed that he was suffering from high blood pressure and was worried about his mental health. He was subsequently sent a warning for his unacceptable absence.
Eventually, he was told that the matter was out of HMRC’s hands as they had passed the incident to the contractor’s employer to investigate. The tribunal found that HMRC did not adequately investigate the incident and that they should have taken steps to remove the “known discriminator from the workplace”.
The employee was awarded a total of £24,646, including £15,000 for injury to feelings.
What employers need to know about monitoring in the workplace
According to research carried out by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC), 56% of workers believe that they are being monitored at work. But only 38% felt that they were able to challenge forms of monitoring that they felt uncomfortable with.
The right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence is set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated into UK law. In the employment relationship, it is necessary to strike a fair balance between the employee’s right to privacy and the employer’s interests.
When monitoring employees’ activity in the workplace it is important to consider the following:
- Ensure that the employee had been notified of the possibility of the monitoring and been provided with adequate safeguards
- Ensure that the extent of the monitoring and the degree of intrusion into the employee’s privacy is appropriate to the reason for the monitoring in the first place
- Provide reasons to justify monitoring the communications and content
- Consider whether it would be possible to carry out monitoring by using a less intrusive form of monitoring than accessing actual content
- Consider the consequences of the monitoring for the employee.
Monitoring employees will always depend on the individual circumstances but as a principle it is important to provide the employee with detailed information about the processing including the purpose of the monitoring, how long the monitoring data will be kept for and who the monitoring data will be shared with.