This month’s HR news focuses on recruitment problems, worker pension warnings, the effect of technology on HR processes and reminders about updating important wellbeing policies.

Skills shortages and recruitment difficulties

Life is getting tougher for employers and HR recruitment teams. A perfect storm of low unemployment levels and skills shortages is leading to some of the highest vacancy levels seen in two years. November’s labour market statistics by the ONS, based on July-September 2017 data, show that unemployment fell by 59,000 and vacancies increased slightly.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation revealed that 30.5% of London recruiters surveyed found the number of potential job candidates fell in October. The shortages are being felt across a range of sectors from sales staff and lorry drivers to IT and HR professionals.

Pay attention to the mental health of workers

New research has revealed that less than a half of UK businesses have an official mental health or workplace wellbeing policy in place. This should matter to employers and recruiters because mental health issues (including stress, depression, and anxiety) are common reasons for sickness absence, resulting in 15.8 million days lost, (11.5% of the total working days lost) (ONS, March 2017). Benenden’s Mental Health in the Workplace report found that mental health remained a ‘taboo subject’ with only 6% of employees saying they would tell their employer about a mental health condition.

Auto-enrolment warning

The first UK employer has been found guilty of failing to comply with auto-enrolment legislation.

The pensions auto-enrolment initiative, first announced in 2012, obliges all employers, large or small, to enrol their workers into a workplace pension. Oldham-based bus firm Stott Tours failed to set up a workplace pension for its 36 employees and start making the necessary contributions since from June 2015 to April 2017. Under current rules anyone aged over 22 earning over £10,000 per annum should be automatically enrolled by their employer into a pension scheme. There are different completion dates for different businesses with all firms having to comply by February 2018 – the minimum total contribution is to rise to 5%, and then to 8% in 2019.

HR operating costs cut by supermarket giant

A major supermarket announced it is to cut 2,000 jobs in an effort to reduce business costs. Sainsbury’s says it plans to cut 1,400 payroll and HR staff in addition to 600 other posts. The losses reflect efforts by firms to reduce overheads at a time of rising costs and restructuring within the UK retail world. A Sainsbury’s spokesman said it planned to update its HR systems and transform the way it operated.

This news follows the trend reported last month by the British Retail Consortium that British retailers are cutting jobs due to technological change and increased employment costs.

Reminder for firms on workplace sexual harassment

Currently a high profile topic, the prevalence of sexual harassment has led to calls for employers and HR teams to examine their own policies within the workplace. Experts have warned that firms that do not have appropriate harassment and grievance procedures risk breaching equalities legislation.

The Equality Act 2010 says that sexual harassment is behaviour that is either meant to, or has the effect of violating your dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. While this can lead to subjective judgements, it’s important to take each case seriously and consider its merits. Not only that but it serves as a timely reminder to employers and employees to encourage a positive and respectful work culture.

Chronologic’s Workforce Management System supports HR teams in managing sickness absence. The HR module brings HR information together in one place to help keep you informed and compliant!

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