Friday, 31 October 2014

The Invisible Workforce: Employment Practices in the Cleaning Sector

This report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) examines the employment and working conditions of commercial cleaning workers. Noting that the non-domestic cleaning workforce is largely made up of women, migrants and older workers, the report reveals that some employers in the commercial cleaning industry are failing to meet their responsibilities in relation to such matters as pay, holiday and dignity at work.

via IDS Employment Law Brief HR Number 1004 (September 2014)

The Findings Report can downloaded in PDF or as a Word document

The Summary Report is available in PDF or a Word document and is also available in Welsh (Word only)

Severe obesity may be a disability

I read the short report of this case (from Billund in Denmark) in IDS Employment Law Brief HR Number 1002 (August 2014) and wondered. Is it or isn’t it?
The answer is that a BMI of over 40 will create such problems with mobility, endurance and mood as to amount to a disability.

Doyle Clayton: The Employment Solicitors reflected, in its blog, the matter-of-fact reporting of IDS as did the other law firms that I found on a simple Google search.

Only the Guardian deviated and headlined “Severe obesity is a disability, European court adviser rules Advocate general issues preliminary ruling on discrimination claim by sacked Danish childminder who weighed 160kg”.
The article does go on to use the word “may”.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Is teamwork the problem or the solution?: Other forms of co‐operation may be more effective – and save precious management time

an article by Kevan Hall (affiliation(s) unknown) published in Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 21 Issue 6


This paper aims to advance the view that complex organisations rely too much on teamwork, resulting in lower productivity.

It observes that many organisations are moving away from the hierarchical, command‐and‐control style of working, in favour of greater collaboration across departments, territories and different organizations. This is known as a matrix organisation. The reasons for developing a matrix structure are commendable. However, if implemented poorly, a matrix structure will slow down decision‐making, increase the number of meetings, increase costs and create mistrust and resentment in the workplace.

This paper highlights research by training and consultancy firm Global Integration which shows that people in large and complex organisations spend, on average, two days a week on meetings, calls and web meetings, and 50 percent of that time is wasted.

Practical implications
It examines what is really meant by “a team”, and identifies which structures are suitable for maximum efficiency.

The paper targets senior leaders and HR directors with a responsibility for organisational structure and team leadership. It provides thought‐leadership and best‐practice for virtual teams.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Work preferences after 50

a report from Eurofound
Work preferences after 50

People aged 50+ have a wealth of experience and contribute to society in numerous ways, including paid work, informal care and volunteering. However, particularly in the Member States that have joined the EU since 2004, the situation of people aged 50+ can be a vulnerable one – especially in terms of access to healthcare, housing quality and material deprivation.

Part-time work facilitates a better work–life balance – particularly, it seems, for people aged 50+. Among people aged 50+, both in and out of employment, there is a preference for more part-time options.

Unemployed people of all ages want to work. However, unemployed people aged 50+ who can make ends meet would prefer a considerably shorter working week than those who have difficulties making ends meet – this difference is not found in younger age groups. About half of all retirees who are not in employment say they would like to work, often part-time. Proportions are higher for younger, highly educated and healthy retirees with work experience.

The desire to work among people aged 50+, both those in and out of employment, does not seem to be opposed by partners of people aged 50+.

Download PDF (24 pages) here

Time up for the teenager?

an article by Jon Savage published by The RSA

Our idea of 20th-century youth, battered by social and economic change, needs to be redefined for the next generation.

Continue reading

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Mad and bad media: Populism and pathology in the British tabloids

an article by Simon Cross (Nottingham Trent University) published in European Journal of Communication Volume 29 Number 2 (April 2014)


The tabloid press is the section of the British media that has mobilised most vehemently on crime and responsibility. The logic of the tabloids is to sensationalise crime whilst insisting that criminals are morally responsible for their actions.

However, this logic is thwarted when offenders are insane.

The solution for British tabloids has been to invoke the illogical notion that mentally disordered offenders are mad and bad.

The article argues for the need to understand this tabloid heuristic in relation to the politics of mental health care in the community policy in the 1990s, and the politics of tabloid populism.

Tabloid reporting on the ‘mad and bad’ is further illustrated in the case of offenders housed in England’s top-security Broadmoor Hospital. By identifying hypocrisy in tabloid reporting on Broadmoor patients, the article concludes that British tabloid logic should be viewed as pathological.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Is It Time to Restructure 'Failing' Jobcentres?

A new report [sorry, this was new in July 2014] for the Policy Exchange suggests that Jobcentres should be restructured because they are failing to help people find long term work. The report Joined up Welfare shows that just over a third (36%) of people using jobcentres find sustained work. Many people find themselves in and out of employment largely due to having barriers such as a health condition or a mental health issue.

The current system fails to deal with overlapping problems from outset. Policy Exchange states: “People are sometimes referred to a range of different services that operate independently of each other. For example, someone suffering from a lack of training, mental health issues and who has been out of work for a long period of time might receive support from six different providers. This is confusing and expensive”.

The Joined up Welfare report proposes a radical new structure centred around the specific needs of the individual. The main points of this proposed new approach include:

  • Employment services provided by the Jobcentre should become a specialist support service, separate social enterprise which should be allowed to compete with the private and voluntary sectors as well as other public bodies.
  • Creation of a Citizen Support service which would effectively act as the primary and central hub for accessing government services, enabling advisors to identify an individual’s specific barriers to work and suggest providers that could help meet that person’s needs.
  • Budget allocation direct to the individual claimant, which would then be channelled to the provider of choice who is paid on the outcomes they achieve.
  • One specific point of contact to act as an individual’s ‘case holder’. That lead provider will then coordinate specialist support suited to that person’s unique needs.
Full report (PDF 60pp)

Hazel’s comment:
Good employment advisers in the “old days” acted in just the manner being proposed. There was never any point in forcing someone into work if they had a sick wife/child, debts they could not manage, personal health problems or similar.
Short-term work placements look good on the statistical returns but my proudest memory is of being stopped in the Broadmarsh Centre in Nottingham by a man who said, “You won’t remember me but two years ago you found me a job. I need to thank you and tell you I’m still there.”
I did remember then – I’d worked my socks off for an unskilled man who wanted to work now that his caring responsibilities had ended.