Net and e-mail policies must be thought through

first_imgHigh-profilemonitoring issue must be handled with care by employersHRmanagers are finding the disciplinary fall-out from monitoring staff e-mailsand Internet use at work an extremely contentious area to regulate. Get itwrong and HR can end up with egg on its face. And,given the huge public and media interest, whatever happens the company will endup splashed all over the press.Asurvey of 2,000 companies (with a 10 per cent response rate) carried out by usat law firm Klegal gives some useful indications of what needs tochange as use of e-mail and the Internet grows and throws up some surprisingfindings (News, 23 January).Itshows, for example, that more care needs to go into the definitions of grossmisconduct and the disciplinary process if some damaging messages are not sentround organisations and to the outside business world. Itappears from the survey, however, that use of the Internet and e-mail is lesswidespread than one might imagine. There is still a tendency to limit use ofboth to senior and middle management. Thesurvey shows that a third of the companies restrict Internet access to seniorand middle-management and a quarter did the same for e-mail. Also less than halfthe firms allowed all office-based staff to use e-mail. A high proportion havea policy governing use of both e-mail and the Net and these generally allow for”reasonable” levels of personal use, much as in the case of telephonecalls. Firsta complete no-no: of those who monitored staff using e-mail and the Internet 20per cent appeared to be doing so secretly. Most of the returns received werecompleted just after the drearily entitled and over-bracketedtelecommunications (Lawful Business Practice Interception of Communications)Regulations came into force in October last year. Even interceptions madelawful under these controversial rules require all reasonable efforts to bemade to inform all users that there may be monitoring going on. Toput it mildly, it is a touch surprising that one in five employers may bespying on their staff. Of course all statistics are fallible, but suppose itwas one in 10 would that make you feel a lot better? Asit is so easy to get this right with an appropriate sentence in the policy, itshould make employers pause for thought. Guilty parties should get their acttogether fast. To be sued for such an act or to fall flat in a tribunal becauseyour unlawful surveillance rendered a dismissal unfair would be mighty embarrassingand the damage to the working environment does not bear thinking about.Giventhe tabloid attention it gets, maybe it is not surprising to have discoveredthat the easiest way to get dismissed misusing the Internet or e-mail is todownload pornography. By a huge margin it was found to be the most widely andheavily-punished offence, easily ahead of wasting time, defamatory messages,improper jokes and sexual and racial harassment.  Isit healthy that unlawful racial and sexual harassment should be easier to getaway with at work than ogling inappropriate, but quite possibly legal,photographs? It would be sensible to regard this finding as no more than apointer to prevailing attitudes. Even on that basis, however, it would indicatemore care needs to go into the definitions of gross misconduct and thedisciplinary process if some very insulting messages are not to be communicatedwithin organisations and to the world outside the business.Itis obvious from all of this and from the continuing outpouring of press storiesthat HR managers are finding this a difficult area. The answer is to think thepossibilities through well in advance and then draft policies accordingly.After that it is a matter of training and implementation. ByStephen Levinson,  a partner and head ofemployment law (UK) at Klegal, the law firm associated with KPMG Previous Article Next Article Net and e-mail policies must be thought throughOn 30 Jan 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

Letters

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article LettersOn 27 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Thisweek’s lettersLetterof the WeekRemember older can mean wiserIread your feature on the new breed in HR (13 March) with a sense of wonderment,that Personnel Today could appear to champion the cause of ageism. By implication,your article writes off an old breed of HR as Luddites, incapable of harnessingthe benefits of technology.  Ifind it mildly insulting to our profession that teamworking and exercisingautonomy appear to be put forward as the province of youth, as is beingWeb-savvy, mobile and unconcerned for the mores of dress. Or am I overreactingand feeling my age? Oh,and incidentally, unlike Eileen Wood, I don’t mind receiving a fountain pen forLetter of the Week (Letters, 13 March), but I’d as soon have a new stylus formy Palm.RogerBuxtonHR manager, Claverham Speakingup for the written word Despitethe letter in your 13 March issue, I think a fountain pen is quite apt. Afountain can go with the flow yet still come to a useful point. Wordprocessingpackages cannot always convey the same message – the pen is mightier than theword.ReadingPersonnel Today on paper seems acceptable and I hope my birthday cards do notarrive by e-mail. Of course technology is useful, but it is not the answer toeverything.PaulHollandTraining manager, Royal West Sussex NHS TrustCorusstaff left to worry about futureIwholeheartedly support the CIPD’s demand for the Government to consider theviews of HR specialists when reviewing redundancy consultation. However,maybe companies about to embark on a downsizing operation would benefit fromconsulting with those experienced in the process, in particular methods used tosupport staff through the trauma of redundancy.Iread with interest the article on Corus (News profile, 20 February) when AllanJohnston said that “he would like to see consultation take place where it hasthe most effect – which is generally in the workplace. If you are someone inPort Talbot or Scunthorpe, what you really want to know is, ‘What the hell isgoing on in my plant?” Healso said they wished to deal with “people consequences” through a combinationof counselling and retraining.Ihave to tell Mr Johnston that the employees in Llanwern are saying, “What thehell’s going on at my plant?” Most have so far received just one piece of paperasking if they would like to be considered for “cross-matching” (redeployment),and if they would like counselling. This was received some weeks ago and sincethen they have received little information from management or unions.Thereappears to be no support, no information regarding government funding forretraining, and calls to HR have been met with a complete lack of response.Anemployee’s view is that the plant is operating almost to full capacity, no 2blast furnace has been taken out of mothballs, and it is once again producingthe finest quality steel in the world. The employees are perplexed at receivinglittle or no information and feel unsupported and stressed.WouldMr Johnston and his team like to share best practice?SueFordJob search centre adviser, Rolls-Royce See News pages for Allan Johnston’s responseNetaccess more vital than details RayWild’s article on Internet recruitment raised some interesting points, butmissed some key issues (Opinion, 27 February). Earlierthis year we ran a major research project into Internet use among 5,500jobseekers in Europe. We found the greatest barriers to usage are the cost andslow connectivity – each cited by two-thirds of the sample. Fast ISDN lines andaccess at work mean many were searching for new jobs from the office. Qualityof content was a lesser issue with 35 per cent saying they would access jobsites more often if it was easier to find information.Themessage is clear. Until infrastructure providers deliver better services andtelecoms providers slash access costs, employers will be denied access to avast audience of potential recruits.AndyParsleyBernard Hodes GroupLeavefor fathers is a positive startIam pleased that the Government is going to introduce two weeks’ paid paternityleave (News, 27 February). This is definitely a step in the right direction andlong overdue, as current arrangements are pretty poor.Fathersshould be allowed a decent amount of time off when their child is born. It is agreat help to know there is someone to take the kids to school, do a bit ofshopping and so on, especially when mums have to spend a short timerecuperating and looking after the new arrival – this might be an old-fashionedthing to say, but it’s true. Noteveryone is lucky enough to have other family members to help out, so a coupleof weeks’ paid leave for a partner is a good start to family-friendly policies.HelenBeacherPart-time administrator, Plumstead    Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

No to new EU law despite M&S cuts

first_img Previous Article Next Article No to new EU law despite M&S cutsOn 24 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. The CBI believes there is a casefor improved enforcement of the UK’s laws on redundancy consultation followingMarks & Spencer’s failure to consult over its decision to close its Frenchoperation.Simon Blake, policyadviser at the CBI, said the UK’s approach to consultation might needfine-tuning, but the European directive on the issue should still be resisted.He said, “I don’tthink there is a strong case for changing the law because the differencesbetween UK and French law are procedural. But I do think there is a case forbetter enforcement of the laws we already have.”www.cbi.org.uk Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Video Arts enters market with tailor-made approach

first_imgVideo Arts enters market with tailor-made approachOn 1 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Video Arts, one of the biggest names in training and experts in blendedlearning solutions, has acquired Manchester-based e-learning venture LearningPack in a bid to extend its range of products and services into tailor-madecoaching programmes. “We have been watching the market closely and there is now a muchgreater demand for e-learning programmes that are made to fit perfectly withthe needs of individual organisations,” said Video Arts managing director,John Lowe. The new range of from Video Arts will be called Exact Solutions. Learning Pack developed out of the award-winning Gemisis programme, a £15mcollaborative research and development initiative involving NTL, University ofSalford, ICL and Cities of Manchester and Salford. “As part of thisacquisition, we will also be able to commission specific research projectsthrough its continuing collaboration with the Gemisis programme,” saidLowe. Video Arts also commissioned research by NOP into UK organisations’attitudes to e-learning.  Of thosesurveyed, 57 per cent of companies not using e-learning programmes said theywere likely to adopt a tailored package within the next two years. Findings also reported that a large proportion of organisations use acombination of tailored and off-the-shelf e-learning programmes. Among the prosof e-learning were accessibility (42 per cent), flexibility (37 per cent), costeconomies (35 per cent) and consistency (11 per cent). The disadvantages were loss of interpersonal aspect (33 per cent), cost (20per cent) and no opportunity to ask advice (16 per cent). www.videoarts.com Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

Learning for life: debriefing

first_imgLearning for life: debriefingOn 1 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Life Long Learning and Continuing Professional Development are the processesby which professionals, such as nurses, develop and improve their practice. There are many ways to address CPD: formally, through attending courses, studydays and workshops or informally, through private study and reflection. Readingarticles in professional journals is a good way of keeping up-to-date with whatis going on in the field of practice, but reflecting and identifying what youhave learnt is not always easy. These questions are designed to help you toidentify what you have learnt from studying the article. They will also helpyou to clarify what you can apply to practice, what you did not understand andwhat you need to explore further. 1. How many years has debriefing been around? Over a) 10 b) 20 c) 30 d) 40 2. With regards to debriefing, this article is a a) Review of the literature b) Review of the research c) Critical appraisal d) Practitioners response 3. Debriefed employees generally a) Return to work and suffer less anxiety b) Require more debriefing c) Have a phobic reaction to work d) Cannot concentrate 4. One of the questions asked when evaluating debriefing is a) How many people have benefited? b) Is it a time-consuming process? c) What are they trying to achieve? d) What is the cost? 5. Which model does the author use? a) Cathartic b) Cognitive c) Transactional analysis d) Reflective 6. A major aspect of debriefing is a) Group sessions b) To achieve a sense of cognitive control c) The learning experience d) To piece together what happened 7. Debriefing is a a) Complicated process b) Simple process c) Structured process d) Instructive process 8. How many basic principles of debriefing does the author give? a) 3 b) 4 c) 5 d) 6 9. Debriefing helps people to understand that their reactions are a) Usual b) Unusual c) Abnormal d) Normal 10. The most common reason for people going off sick after a traumaticincident at work is they are angry that a) The Government is not doing enough b) The NHS is not doing enough c) Their organisation does not care enough d) Their colleagues do not care enough Feedback1.b);2.d) Although this article is a practitioners response it is worth doing aliterature search for evidence. The RCN Library has 26 references on debriefingfollowing critical incidents. Occupational Health has published three recentarticles and these are worth revisiting. “Going off the rails” (March2001 vol 53 no 3); “Call to crisis” (May 2000 vol 52 no 5) and”Calming Force” (March 2000 vol 52 no 3) in order to gain a broaderperspective; 3.a); 4.c); 5.b) Refresh your knowledge of the differenttypes and models used in counselling; 6.c); 7.a); 8.b); 9.d); 10.c) Nowyou have read this article, completed the questions and undertaken furtherreading, discuss with your colleagues or clinical supervisor the benefits ofdebriefing after critical incidents. Has your organisation got a policy fordealing with critical incidents? If not, jot down some notes on what you thinkshould be in such a policy and how you go about introducing the policy to theorganisation. last_img read more

Plan for NHS system to track staff careers

first_imgThe NHS is to launch a new £300m payroll system that will provide HRprofessionals with information on sickness absence, overtime and staff trainingacross the healthcare service. Andrew Foster, the NHS’ HR director, announcing the launch at theAssociation of Healthcare Human Resource Management’s national conference, saidthe new system would be piloted at 30 sites next year and stressed itsimportance to the future of the service. “You get a complete picture of people’s careers and it’s going to be ahuge tool at local, and ultimately national, level,” he says. “It’s the biggest payroll system launch in the world and is beingbacked by a £300m investment. “It will give us a great picture of the workforce and helps with theimplementation of the skills escalator,” he says. Tracy Myhill, AHHRM’s new president, told Personnel Today that the newsystem will provide consistent information on employees across the NHS. She explained, “At present each trust has its own system, some of whichare very good, but others are archaic. The problem is that the presentdisparate system means ministers can’t glean information accurately because allthe systems and measurements are done differently.” The new system will compile information on a variety of areas other than payand will allow HR managers easy access to data on sickness absence and trainingacross the NHS. Myhill adds, “It will do a couple of major things. It will give usaccess to good HR information on sickness absence, overtime, training and allthe key indicators that we need to monitor the effectiveness of the NHS. “It will also cut down on unnecessary duplication because if mostpeople are using the same system it will give us universal data across theNHS.” By Ross Wigham Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Plan for NHS system to track staff careersOn 2 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Firms urged to tackle incapacity

first_imgFirms urged to tackle incapacityOn 1 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Employers need to develop reasonable and comprehensive policies for managingincapacity to combat spiralling costs of workplace absence, which rose from10.7bn to 11.8bn in the year 2000-1. This was the message delivered to delegates at the recent ManagingIncapacity conference organised by Employers’Law in association with Allen& Overy. Employment partner at the legal firm Karen Seward urged HR and occupationalhealth professionals to work together and to think laterally across severalareas of legislation: the employment contract, health and safety and theDisability Discrimination Act. Companies were advised to reserve the right in the employment contract todismiss staff in cases of prolonged incapacity and to reduce contractualobligations in relation to sick pay. Private health insurance was another area which could lead to expensiveclaims and delegates were warned that such schemes removed a lot of flexibilityin managing incapacity absences. On the other hand, the recent Sutherland v Hatton case should encourageemployers to adopt robust policies on dealing with stress. Another speaker at the briefing, Stephen Bevan, head of research at the WorkFoundation, told delegates that UK employers spend 16 per cent of their paybill each year managing sickness absence and up to 70 per cent of these costsare attributable to long-term absence. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Unions fight to close loophole indiversity law

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. The TUC is to co-ordinate a union-backed legal challenge to new regulationswhich could allow pension schemes and religious organisations to continue todiscriminate against lesbian and gay workers. The challenge is being lodged to address what the unions believe areloopholes in the legislation which outlaws discrimination on the basis ofsexual orientation or religion, and comes into force in December. Seven of the TUC’s affiliated unions (including Amicus-MSF and Unison) havelodged papers with the High Court, because they believe the regulations are notbeing implemented as required by the original EU Employment Equality FrameworkDirective. The unions argue that aspects of the Government’s Employment Equality(Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, which are meant to give lesbian and gaypeople additional legal protection, will actually end up discriminating againstthem. The unions’ legal challenge is based on two key points of the proposed UK law:regulation 25, which relates to pensions, and regulation 7(3), which affectspeople working for religious organisations. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, said: “The new sexual orientationregulations will make a real difference to gay people. It is unfortunate theGovernment has decided to exempt those working for religious organisations, andwants to bar lesbians and gay men from receiving benefits from certain pensionschemes.” The unions will also argue that as well as a misinterpretation of the EUFramework Directive, the Government’s proposed regulations may also breach theHuman Rights Act 1988. Comments are closed. Unions fight to close loophole indiversity lawOn 30 Sep 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Letters

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. LettersOn 11 May 2004 in Personnel Today This week’s lettersUnnecessary GP sicknotes are a major public health disasterRecently, there have been a number of welcome new initiatives to helpovercome the problem of long-term incapacity. Although they are effective formany of the individuals they are targeted at, they are a very expensive way ofassisting the thousands of people who are unnecessarily issued sicknotes bytheir GPs, never to return to work. This is a public health disaster. Although the number of people consideredtoo ill to work again has stabilised, approximately 3,000 people a week go onlong-term incapacity benefits, and only a small proportion will return to work.While many of these cases are valid, the consequences for those who should bereturning to work are dire. Heart disease, cancer and depression are all more common among theunemployed. Being off sick, even if the reason for the incapacity is not sound,becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We are in a situation where doctors,particularly GPs, unthinkingly condemn patients to a future of malaise andunhappiness. However, sicknotes have proven adverse effects, and need to beprescribed with the same care and attention as any other treatment. We need a campaign to create awareness of the danger of walking blindfoldedinto chronic incapacity. The Department of Work and Pensions is instigating aneducational programme for GPs, but unless the dangers of sickness certificationare made clear to everyone, it is unlikely that things will change. We saw how medical practice changed in light of the public’s fears overdrugs such as Valium. Dr Richard Asher wrote a paper on the dangers of bed restin 1947, which was a major catalyst for change. Why can’t someone do the samewith sick leave? Dr Mike O’Donnell Chief medical officer, UnumProvident Qualifications fail to get a foot in the door I currently work as an administrator in a recruitment agency. I funded andcompleted the Certificate in Personnel Practice in 2003 (part-time whileworking here). I wanted to gain this qualification to further my career in aspecialised area within HR, and to be more than just an administrator. I cannot progress from my current role because we are such a small company,so there is nowhere for me to go. Since finishing the CPP, I have been forseveral interviews for HR administrator jobs, but have been unsuccessful as Ihaven’t got enough experience in HR. I thought that completing this course would make it a little bit easier toget my foot in the door, but it hasn’t. I didn’t want to complete the full CIPDqualification until I had a job in HR, which I cannot get. Why is it this hard? How can I gain HR experience if no one will give me achance to? Melanie Callaghan Details supplied Gateshead’s thunder stolen by Newcastle Having read ‘Reality check working wonders in the North East’ (Careerwise,20 April), I was somewhat surprised to see the ‘blinking eye Millennium Bridge’(as you call it) and the ‘world-renowned Baltic Art Gallery’ described as thecentrepiece of the new Quayside in Newcastle. In actual fact, The Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the Baltic Centre forContemporary Art are both part of the Gateshead Quays development… inGateshead. In the article, you commiserate with Newcastle’s failed bid ‘for theEuropean City of Culture’. The bid for the European Capital of Culture was ajoint bid between Newcastle and – you’ve guessed it – Gateshead. I agree with the author that businesses have difficulties in attractingcandidates for senior roles in this region. Sadly, our own considerable effortsto attract high-quality applicants were undermined in your article, accreditingthe council’s proudest achievements to someone else. Mark Wilson Senior personnel adviser, Gateshead Council Disillusioned HR pro is set to change jobs I am sorry to say that I empathised with all the sentiments expressed byRuth Pankhurst in your article which described her swapping the HR professionfor a job as a plumber (News, 30 March). I, like Ruth, have become very frustrated by the perception people have ofour profession, especially at social events, when a vacant expression followsmy answer to the question: “So, what do you do then?” I have given up trying to explain the complexities of my job. Instead, Ihave come to simply agree with the retorts I receive which, to name but a few,include: “Oh, so you collect people’s bank details when they start andstuff”, and “Oh, so you go around sacking people, then?” This would be almost bearable if the role of HR was, if not valued, at leastunderstood in the workplace. So when recently asked by a senior manager to helphim with some interviewing, but warned not to include “any of thatwishy-washy HR stuff” in the questions or assessments, I reached for thelocal paper to look for apprentice opportunities. Details supplied Top managers need to take more control In your story, ‘Shell chief hits out at executive egomania’ (News, 27 April2004), you report some fine sentiments from Andrew Mather, who argued thatleadership is not about personal ego, but humility. Mather could be referringto research by Jim Collins at Stanford University Business School, whose book,Good to Great, clearly demonstrates this argument in the outstandingperformance of companies with humble, yet determined leaders. I was heartily dismayed however, to read your report of Andrew Kakabadse’sdenial that business leaders are suffering from a lack of integrity, blamingthe pressures for greater shareholder value instead. It was also dismal to readthat Roger Gill concurred with this view, although he quite rightly identifiedthat the resilience and moral courage of top management was being dented byshareholder pressure. Don’t they realise moral courage is an essential component of integrity? Iftop managers feel that pressure from shareholders is intolerable, then theyhave a moral duty to push back. If shareholders don’t like it, then they onlyhave themselves to blame if they fire principled leaders and replace them withlesser mortals who are tempted to cook the books to keep their grimy jobs. Instead of excusing top management, we should demand equally high standardsof integrity from shareholders and consumers. Short-term investors and greedyconsumers are as corrosive to business integrity as the fattest of fat cats. Roger Steare Business ethics consultant, Roger Steare Consulting Limited Longstanding vacant HR post is damning Colin Povey’s comments on the lack of HRD talent in the UK are interesting(News, 27 April). Any serious professional in our discipline should first and foremost havedeveloped the skills to attract and retain talent. If Povey can’t fill his HRdirector post after six months, then that is rather damning. Secondly, an HR professional worth their salt should always have an eye ondevelopment from within, or succession. Povey’s career moved from HRD tocommercial director to general manager – all at Carlsberg UK. Isn’t thereanyone from his old HR team with boots big enough for the role? If not, whynot? Thirdly, if we Brits in HR are all third rate (ha!), why doesn’t Poveyextend his search outside the UK? Bring a foreign superstar on to the side.Attracting international talent to the UK for director level roles is veryfeasible. Let’s have less claptrap about ‘engines powering organisations’ and moregood old-fashioned practice, Mr Povey. But I don’t think he’d listen to an HRperson anyway, do you? David O. Faik HR specialist, Motability Operations last_img read more

Some limitations on plant growth and development in tundra regions – an investigation using phytometers

first_imgThe use of oats as phytometers for seasonal studies of microclimatic favourability and nutrient limitations is reported. The effect of age and development on growth parameters in long‐term experiments is illustrated by comparison with data from related short‐term experiments. Regression analyses were carried out on seasonal growth data to discover patterns of growth and development. Intersite differences were more clearly demonstrated by plants grown in nutrient‐rich media than by those grown in soil and were most marked under poor weather conditions. Highly significant differences in growth existed between seasons for the nutrient‐treated vermiculite experiments and between treatments for the soil and vermiculite experiments. The use of regression analyses to explain dry matter accumulation is discussed, and the usefulness of phytometers in growth assessment is considered.last_img read more