The latest HR news focuses on calls for increased support for SMEs, warnings about correct overseas worker paperwork and improvements to employee wellbeing.
Call for ‘People Skills’ investment in SMEs
Small businesses could help unlock the UK’s productivity lag given more government support. That’s the claim by professional HR body the CIPD, who have called on the government for an investment of £13 million per year. They say this could provide small businesses with the HR support they need.
Their call is based on the findings of year-long ‘People Skills’ pilots (download report) which provided HR support to SMEs in Hackney, Stoke-on-Trent and Glasgow. Ben Willmott, CIPD Head of Public Policy, said: “We calculate that about £40m from the Government’s National Productivity Investment Fund would support the £13m annual cost of running a People Skills-type service across all 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships in England for three years and could revolutionise the quality of business support for small firms.”
SMEs risk losing overseas workers licence
A lack of knowledge about employing overseas workers could mean businesses losing their licence to employ overseas workers. A survey of over 1,000 SMEs organisations found that two-thirds of businesses questioned were unaware of the documents they needed to hold for sponsored overseas workers. The report by Migrate UK also found that despite the risks only 7% of businesses were advertising job vacancies correctly when recruiting a non-EEA citizen. With new immigration rules expected post-Brexit from March 2019, firms risked exacerbating the skills shortage, in addition to the fines or even prison which company directors already face for failing to comply with overseas worker rules. Businesses need to ensure all paperwork is correct for Home Office spot check visits.
Economy benefits from National Living Wage
Despite fears about job-reductions, the national living wage (NLW) has helped cut the number of workers on low pay by more than 300,000 in 2016. In fact, Britain has experienced the biggest fall in low pay since 1977, according to a new report by the Resolution Foundation. The NLW, introduced by former chancellor George Osborne in April 2016, imposes a floor of £7.50 an hour for employees aged 25 and over.
The study comes just after the ONS released its figures on earnings and low pay. It found that hotels and restaurants had the highest proportion of jobs below or close to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the NLW in Quarter 4 2016 whereas construction, and energy and water had the lowest proportion of jobs paid below or close to the NMW or NLW.
Working environment affects worker wellbeing
More evidence has emerged of the link between employee working conditions and their productivity and retention. The latest research supports a strong correlation between productivity with workers’ environmental conditions such as light, noise, design and quality of furniture, according to the project Wellness Together by Sapio Research. The findings claim that firms with good working conditions and flexible working practices are more productive and are likely to have staff with better physical and mental wellbeing. The study of 1,000 UK office workers also found that 48% said that workplace design affected their decision about staying with an employer.
Focus on Mental Health in the Workplace
World Mental Health Day on 10 October this year focused on mental health in the workplace, human resources experts have been putting the spotlight on this important area of employee wellbeing.
A new study found that 60% of the 3,000 respondents had experienced work-related mental health issues but that 15% faced dismissal, disciplinary action or demotion as a result of disclosing a mental health issue to their employer. The Mental Health at Work report 2016 by Business in the Community called for a partnership between employers and employees in tackling this area, recommending that businesses come up with effective strategies to ‘Talk’, ‘Train’ and ‘Take Action’.
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