Firms face pension threat from stakeholder plans

first_img Previous Article Next Article Firms face pension threat from stakeholder plansOn 25 Jan 2000 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Up to a third of employers with occupational pension schemes will have toallow more staff to join if they want to avoid having to offer a stakeholderpension.Under rules released by the Government last week, employers running pensionfunds will escape providing access to the new pension only if they meet certainrequirements.Thousands of schemes would fail, as they are currently structured, on twokey issues – the minimum age for membership and the length of service beforejoining the scheme.Stakeholder pensions are the Government’s plan to provide low-cost pensionsto staff with earnings in the £9,000 to £18,000 bracket, many of whom haveneither company nor personal provision. They will be administered by privatesector providers.The Government’s position on age limits is that schemes may only excludestaff under 18. But last year’s NAPF survey reveals that 34 per cent of privatesector final salary schemes have a higher age limit. For money purchase, thefigure is 31 per cent.There are an estimated 150,000 occupational pension schemes in the UK so,potentially, 50,000 employers could be affected.The Government has also decided that pension funds requiring employees towait more than a year before being able to join the fund will have to provideaccess to stakeholder. Again this will cause problems for schemes as, accordingto NAPF figures, about 5 per cent of final salary and 9 per cent of moneypurchase schemes impose a wait of more than a year.The £200m Next pension scheme has an age limit of 20. Pensions manager JohnStevenson said the scheme was likely to extend membership rather than provideaccess to the new scheme.By Tom PowdrillRules on stakeholder pensions• Charge: there will be a maximum annual charge of 1 per cent of the valueof the fund to cover operating costs.• Advice: schemes must provide basic information and explanatory materialbut will not be required to offer individual financial advice within the 1 percent charge.• Access: The requirement to provide access to stakeholder schemes will berestricted to employers with five staff or more.• Group personal pensions: Employers which arrange group personal pensionswill also be exempt from the access requirement, provided they offer acontribution of at least 3 per cent of read more

HSE tackles sector back pain

first_imgHSE addresses back-injury problem in construction with specific guidanceBack injuries cost the construction industry around £0.7bn a year,accounting for two-thirds of total sickness absence, the Health and SafetyExecutive has found. In response to these high figures, the HSE has launched guidance on safemanual handling in the sector. Backs for the Future – Safe Manual Handling inConstruction has the backing of the Construction Confederation and the GMBUnion. Lorraine Shepherd, HSE occupational health inspector for the constructionsector, said, “Occupational health professionals should find this guidancehelps them to understand how everyone in construction has a part to play inreducing manual handling risks,” “They can use the guidance to encourage and guide the industry towardsbetter planning, control and management of manual handling risks,” sheadded. The guidance sets out basic principles for dealing with manual handlingrisks and provides ideas for solutions to different handling problems. Itincludes 27 case studies where real solutions were implemented on site, showingeffective ways in which manual handling risks can be reduced in practice. Commenting on the launch, HSE chief inspector of construction Kevin Myerssaid, “Workers are quite literally putting their backs out trying to helptheir employers. It is about time their employers put their backs in to tryingto help their workers.” Copies of Backs for the Future, ISBN 0 7176 1122 1, priced £8.50, areavailable from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2WA. Tel: 01787881165, or fax: 01787 313995. Previous Article Next Article HSE tackles sector back painOn 1 Mar 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Acid helps cut NHS spending on indigestion

first_imgAcid helps cut NHS spending on indigestionOn 1 Aug 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article The institute recommends proton pump inhibitors fortreatment of an ulcer caused by use of other medication. Mild indigestion orheartburn can be treated with a low-dose antacid. Related posts:No related photos. “The guidance issue means that patients can restassured they will get the treatment that is right for them, wherever theylive,” said Denham.center_img These have been sent to doctors to advise them to uselow-cost treatments at an early stage, to prevent development into more seriousconditions. Advice on the use of acid suppressants and proton pumpinhibitors will cut indigestion and save the NHS £50m a year, health ministerJohn Denham has announced. The announcement follows recommendations published by theNational Institute for Clinical Excellence. last_img read more

Safety code floats idea of board accountability

first_imgSafety code floats idea of board accountabilityOn 6 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Companyboard members are being urged to become more accountable for health and safety.Adraft code drawn up by the Health and Safety Commission is intended to helpdirectors ensure that workplace risks are properly managed and that staff andthe public are protected. PeterCarr, personnel services officer for Easington Council, in north-east England,welcomed the move. He said, “It will give health and safety issues ahigher profile. Our health and safety manager is part of the personneldepartment and reports directly to our chief executive.”HSCchair Bill Callaghan said, “Individual directors and managers can beprosecuted if their actions, or lack of them, lead to work-related deaths,illness or injury. The code seeks to ensure that everyone at board levelrecognises and acts on this responsibility.”Consultationends on 9 April.Directorsneed to…*Accept joint responsibility and leadership for their organisation’s health andsafety performance*Appoint one board member to champion health and safety issues.*Ensure that individual members of the board recognise their personalliabilities and responsibilities under health and safety law.last_img read more

Mums speak up for job shares and home work

first_img Previous Article Next Article Nearly eight out of 10 working mothers questioned in a survey said theywould quit their current full-time job tomorrow if given the chance. The survey carried out by a women’s consumer magazine shows that only 4 percent of working mothers with young children want to work. Nearly a third of respondents would rather have a part-time career or jobshare, and 22 per cent want to work from home or set up their own business. A significant 43 per cent would prefer to be a full-time mum. More than 60 per cent of women find the work environment depressing, and 51per cent admit that they take time off because of work-related stress. Furthermore, three-quarters of working women believe that children suffer ifboth parents work. Nearly 90 per cent also blame the stress of trying to juggle work and homelife into making them shout at their children. Juliette Kellow, editor of the women’s magazine Top Santé, which publishedthe report, said, “The Government wants to encourage as many women aspossible into full-time work, but the survey shows that this is not whatmothers want. “Working full time for most women is a major problem, physically,emotionally and mentally, and is damaging to family life andrelationships.” More than 5,000 working women were surveyed across the UK for the report. Related posts:No related photos. Mums speak up for job shares and home workOn 19 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Engineers target women as Modern Apprentices

first_imgEngineers target women as Modern ApprenticesOn 2 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today The engineering industry is targeting ethnic minorities and women as part ofa recruitment drive to help it boost the number of people taking modernapprenticeships to 10,000 by 2005. The Engineering Manufacturing Training Association is looking to increaseits modern apprenticeship training numbers by 66 per cent in four years. It plans to more than double the number of female apprentices, whichcurrently stands at only three per cent of its intake, from 180 to 400 by 2005.EMTA also hopes to see the number of people training from ethnic minoritiesdouble from 120 to 240 over the next four years. The association believes one of the most effective ways of meeting itstargets is by increasing the number of schools that offer engineeringqualifications. It wants to see a 12-fold increase in the number of schools teaching GSCEengineering. EMTA’s chief executive, Dr Michael Sanderson, hopes these will help end thetraditional view of engineering as an industry dominated by middle-aged men. He believes that the Government’s backing of vocational training will helpthe organisation meet its aims. He said, “These are ambitious targets andwe will need everyone’s help in the industry to achieve them. “The Government’s new-found commitment to vocational training gives usthe chance to take our message into the classroom. We will be able to directlyexplain to young people the high tech nature of today’s industry and thecountless opportunities it offers in our global economy.” EMTA announced its recruitment drive in its latest sector workforcedevelopment plan. Paul Nelson Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Latin digital divide

first_img Previous Article Next Article Internet commerce and use continues to increase dramatically throughoutLatin America, but a digital divide seems to be taking place in the region. The Internet market grew by [150%] in Chile [136%] in Argentina but grew by only [55%] in Ecuador [42%] in Paraguay [40%] in Colombia The Yankee Group, a market research firm, concludes that GDP and governmentregulations seem to play a major role in the growth of the Internet market inLatin America. The relatively less regulated economies in Chile, Argentina andMexico appear to be pushing beyond initial levels of Internet use, while theirless developed cousins in Peru and Bolivia are still struggling with basicinfrastructure development. Latin digital divideOn 1 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Kickstart productivity by focusing on basics

first_img Previous Article Next Article Kickstart productivity by focusing on basicsOn 11 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Thesurprise quarter per cent cut in the interest rate last week will not make ahuge difference to British manufacturing. While it was welcomed, confidence in the sector is falling. There areconcerns that imbalances in the economy, between a weak manufacturing sectorand strong consumption, might get worse, along with the prospect of 40,000manufacturing jobs disappearing in the first quarter of 2003.Theoutlook for UK productivity continues to look bleak. But while HR grapples withthe repercussions of all this on the workplace, it is important to remainfocused on the fundamental actions you can take to help your business. Thisweek, we have produced our own White Paper on productivity. It is designed topresent a way forward on what HR can contribute to improvingcompetitiveness.   Inkeeping with White Papers, we’ve set aside a consultation period of two weeksto receive feedback from readers, employer organisations and other interestedparties.Wewant the magazine to be seen as a conduit for ideas, experiences and views, andintend to collate this material and present it to the Government to inform theproductivity debate.Dataprotection made easyThereare some sharp crooks out there. One of them saw the uncertainty among employerssurrounding the implementation of the Data Protection Act, and set up aneffective scam. Itdistributed official-looking letters to thousands of employers demanding a dataprotection registration fee, and warned recipients they would be fined £5,000if they did not pay it promptly. Theswindle is symptomatic of a wider confusion over compliance with dataprotection, and the blame lies fair and square with the Information Commission.PersonnelToday has campaigned hard over the past two years to get the commission’sguidance on data protection simplified. And at last, we appear to have anInformation Commissioner with some sense. Newlyappointed Richard Thomas has made a commitment to clarify all four codes. Thisis very welcome news, but he needs to get on with it and give employers thesupport they urgently need.   ByJane King Comments are closed. last_img read more

DTI puts HR at heart of productivity strategy

first_imgDTI puts HR at heart of productivity strategyOn 30 Sep 2003 in Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article For the first time, the DTI has spelled out exactly what itbelieves UK employers need to do to make the UK more competitiveMore effective people management and greater workplace partnership have beenidentified by the Government as two of the major tools for tackling the UK’schronic productivity problem. For the first time ever the DTI has released an official strategy fordriving productivity improvements and spells out some explicit measures and targetsto enable it to achieve this. The strategy outlines five priority areas that the DTI intends to focus on.These include helping business to successfully exploit new ideas and thepromotion of open and fair markets at home and abroad. It will also strive tostrengthen regional economies and to forge closer partnerships with keyeconomic players both at home and abroad. The final strand is the need tomaximise staff potential. Crucially, it highlights a range of HR issues as central to the solution – citingmanagement techniques, building skills, high performance workplaces andpartnership as part of the strategy. The document follows a large-scale study by the DTI, which called in US guruMichael Porter to investigate why the UK lags so far behind its globalcompetitors in the productivity stakes. Focusing on change Launching the strategy, trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt saidthat productivity improvements were the key to UK plc becoming morecompetitive. She said developments in technology and an aging workforce,coupled with greater global competition, were making high productivity evenmore fundamental to business success. “This will sharpen the DTI’s focus for the next five years,” shesaid. “Raising productivity will ensure that Britain really does provideopportunity and prosperity for all its citizens.” Research shows that productivity in the UK is consistently at lower levelsthan its major competitors, with a persistent gap of at least 20 per cent overthe past decade. The UK also invests less than its competitors in both capitaland people. The strategy identifies better qualifications and improved skillsas points of focus. The document defines the factors that create high performance workplaces,including modern management practices that develop workforce skills and deploythem flexibly. Staff engagement Other key elements are good communications that work both upwards anddownwards and foster staff engagement, and a spirit of trust and mutualcommitment to common goals. Examples put forward by the DTI are strongappraisal systems, teamworking, joint problem-solving and effective informationand consultation structures. The DTI analysis concludes that the problem in the UK is not that thesepractices are unknown, but that they are not applied widely or deeply enough. Stephen Radley, chief economist at the Engineering Employers’ Federation(EEF) said the DTI had identified the right areas, but said delivery would becrucial. “Increasing productivity is vital because our competitors are wellahead. The DTI is also right to talk about moving up the value-added chain interms of different ways of working.” However, he said the report ignored the rising costs faced by manufacturers whichthe EEF believes is another barrier to productivity. Essentially the strategy wants business to make use of more innovativeworking practices, modern management and strong leadership to build workplacepartnerships where employees feel empowered and motivated. It states that whilethe UK has some of the best managers in Europe, the country as a whole suffersfrom low levels of enterprise and is slow to adopt modern managementtechniques. The Work Foundation’s chief economist Rebecca Harding welcomed the strategyas something that would help business, but warned that some areas would be verydifficult to deliver. “Each business and each sector has its own view of what highperformance is. I’m enthusiastic about it, but the devil is in the detail. Thisis about making organisations more efficient and better places to work, butthat’s a very tricky thing to do,” she said. It would also help employersrefine the employment relationship because staff were increasingly acting likecustomers in their attitude to work, she added. The DTI cites diversity, fair treatment at work and work-life balance as thekey components for raising levels of participation, motivation and creativity,leading to increasing productivity. The study claims high-performance workplaces have been proved to reduceturnover and sickness absence as well as improving motivation. The DTI hopes to drive through the changes by engaging employees andemployers through the skills strategy launched earlier this year as well as byworking closely with the unions. Richard Exell, a senior policy officer at the TUC, said the unions had beenpointing to the same productivity barriers for the past few years and thatengaging the workforce was the way to remove them. Crucial role for HR “Staff can have a huge impact on the strategic direction of a companyand if employers want to build trust they need to work with representativegroups like the unions to maximise employee involvement,” said Exell. He said HR was crucial to developing these modern employment relationshipsand warned that simply coercing staff would not generate the involvement ormotivation needed to drive up productivity. “The idea that commitment can be assumed doesn’t work. It has to bedone on an explicitly mutual basis. Companies expect better productivity, butthere have to be sweeties for everybody at the end of this,” he added. However, Susan Anderson, head of HR policy at the CBI said the DTI was toopessimistic about the ability of managers and the measures already in place. “The strategy is unnecessarily gloomy about the situation as many firmsalready do these things, but don’t label them in the same way. They’veidentified the right areas but used loaded terms. Unions aren’t the only way ofcommunicating with staff,” she said. The strategy also said basic skills must be addressed if there is to be adynamic and flexible workforce, as there are seven million adults in the UKwithout basic literacy skills. The report estimates that as much as 20 per centof the productivity gap with Germany is due to low skills. Debbie McCallion, HR director at software firm Intentia, said it wasimportant to increase both management and basic skills to make sure businessesfunctioned efficiently, but also so people feel challenged and motivated. TheDTI has also pledged to change the way it operates as a department to drive upperformance and become more business focused. By Ross WighamDTI’s five key priorities to raise UK productivity1. Transferring knowledge from science base and betweenbusinesses to aid innovation 2. Maximising potential in the workplace increasing value andskills3. Extending competitive markets4. Strengthening regional economies with more autonomy at locallevel5. Closer partnerships with key economic players in the UK andoverseasWeblink Comments are closed. last_img read more

Species and sexual isolating mechanisms in sibling species of giant petrels Macronectes

first_imgThe two sibling species of giant petrels Macronectes halli and M. giganteus are the dominant avian scavengers in the Southern Ocean ecosystem. They breed sympatrically at a number of sub-Antarctic sites. This paper synthesises data from a detailed study at South Georgia to examine the importance of various interspecific and intersexual differences between these closely related species. Morphological, breeding, dietary, feeding and moult characteristics were investigated. The most significant interspecific differences are a six week separation in the onset of breeding and the importance of seal carrion to male M. halli, the earlier breeding species. There is a strong sexual size dimorphism with females being only 75–80% of the weight of males in both species. Intersexual dietary differences are stronger than interspecific ones and females also have later primary moult schedules. Reproductive isolation and ecological adaptations are discussed in relation to the present distribution of giant petrels, comprising a more restricted sub-Antarctic species (M. halli) and a widespread Antarctic species (M. giganteus). It is suggested that the marked sexual dimorphism evolved before the two taxa became specifically distinct.last_img read more