Category Archives: Conflict Resolution

Employment Law Reforms Announced to Shake Up the Work Place and Encourage Businesses to Hire Again, reports Thomas Mansfield

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced reforms to the UK’s employment laws that make it easier for employers to dismiss under-performing employees. The amended laws include settlement agreements which will give employers the opportunity to pay-off under-performing staff to prevent future claims of unfair dismissal. Although workers are not obliged to accept a pay-off, if they do so it will be legally protected and as such cannot be brought up as evidence in a future court case or tribunal.

At the same time, the maximum limit for a pay out for unfair dismissal is being reduced. It currently stands at £72,300, but MPs want this reduced to a maximum of 12 months’ salary. The aim is to encourage employers, particularly small and medium sized firms, to employ more people.

Critics say the proposals only benefit employers and remove rights from workers, but many employers, particularly smaller firms, should find some benefits, including savings of time and resources, and greater security.

Thomas Mansfield, employment solicitors London based, points out these new settlement agreements are pretty much the same as the existing compromise agreement system. Currently employees and employers can come to a specific agreement over a financial pay out from the employer in return for the employee bringing no claims against the employer in the future. Free legal representation is offered as part of this package, and Thomas Mansfield predicts it will be included in the new settlement agreements too.

The UK’s legal system is a confusing one and often beyond the reach of the ordinary worker. Thomas Mansfield is well placed to provide advice, support and representation on matters relating to employment law, including unfair dismissal and employment tribunals. It predicts the new rules are bound to cause further confusion among both employers and employees and advises anyone confused by the new laws to seek out legal advice when necessary.

Via EPR Network
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Acas Releases 2009/10 Report

Acas’ 2009/10 annual report shows that it dealt with more than 900 collective disputes in the past year. Ninety-four per cent of cases, including high profile disputes such as Royal Mail and Milford Haven Port Authority, were either resolved or the parties were moved towards a resolution.

The report also shows that Acas dealt with more than 85,000 (net) employment tribunal cases for individual conciliation, an overall increase of 13% from 2008/2009 and the highest number ever. While the figure was a record for the year as a whole the trend is now in reverse – the number of cases received for conciliation in the second half of 2009/10 was three per cent lower than the equivalent period in 2008/09.

Nearly 10,000 cases were referred to pre-claim conciliation in 09/10 – the early conciliation service which aims to resolve workplace issues before they escalate into costly and stressful tribunal claims. In 70% of completed cases where PCC was appropriate, tribunal claims have been avoided, saving time and money for taxpayers, employers and workers. It is estimated that completing employment tribunal paper work alone costs employers on average £2,000 a case.

With a million calls, it was also a record year for the Acas helpline which provides advice and guidance to employers and employees on workplace problems. Redundancy, dismissals and discipline and grievance were the most popular topics.

Acas continues to play a critical role in helping employers find more creative ways to avoid redundancy and boost economic recovery with more than 20,000 employers and employees attending an Acas training course during the year.

Via EPR Network
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Acas Launches Guide To Help Businesses Understand New Equality Act

Acas, the employment relations service, has published new guidance to assist businesses in understanding and preparing for the changes to the new single Equality Act. The new Acas quick start guidance, ‘The Equality Act – what’s new for employers?’ demonstrates what these changes mean in practice.

John Taylor, chief executive of Acas, said: “Fairness in the workplace is good business and motivates staff as well as improving effectiveness and productivity. Last year Acas received around 32,000 calls on diversity and discrimination related issues. Our new guide helps businesses and managers understand what the changes mean in practice and what action employers will need to take.”

Changes have occurred in the following areas: third party harassment, pre-employment health checks, power of employment tribunal recommendations and pay secrecy.

The new act means employers are potentially liable if their staff are harassed by people they don’t employ such as external suppliers or customers.

F r o m October employers should no longer send out pre-health questionnaires with employment application packs. There are some exemptions, for example around questions related to making reasonable adjustments for the person in the selection process if they are disabled.

Employment tribunals can require employers found guilty of discrimination to take steps to require them to change their policies and practices to prevent further discrimination.

If a contract of employment requires employees to keep pay secret, the Equality Act makes this requirement unenforceable. An employer can still require employees to keep pay rates confidential f r o m others outside the workplace, such as competitors.

Via EPR Network
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Acas Advises Businesses On How To Maintain Productivity During The World Cup

Acas has offered advice to employers in order for them to get the best from their employees and avoid absences during the football World Cup this summer.

Acas Advises Businesses On How To Maintain Productivity During The World Cup

Acas has urged employers to start talking to employees early to manage their expectations and minimise the impact on workplace productivity.

One of the main issues that Acas has offered advice to employers on is flexibility. Acas is encouraging employers to discuss the possibility of altering start and finish times in the workplace in order to offer the employee a longer lunch break to watch football.

Acas has also suggested being clear on what the employer expects from its employees in terms of attendance and performance throughout the World Cup. This not only helps to keep everyone in the know and assists the workforce in maintaining a high performance rate despite a possible altered attendance.

Honesty is also crucial in making sure everyone knows where they stand and, when combined with being fair and constructively responsive to any queries or questions regarding the changes or time off, any employment disputes will be prevented or at least minimised.

Being communicative is a vital area according to Acas, and the aforementioned points should be discussed by employer and employee as early as possible.

Via EPR Network
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Acas Reports Increase In Those Seeking To Avoid Employment Tribunal Claims

Acas, the employment relations service, has released new figures that reveal the number of businesses and employees which are trying to avoid employment tribunal claims continues to rise in recent months.

Acas Reports Increase In Those Seeking To Avoid Employment Tribunal Claims

Monthly calls to the Acas helpline which, have resulted in being referred to the early conciliation service – pre-claim conciliation (PCC), have almost doubled since September. The free service aims to settle workplace issues which could escalate to an expensive tribunal.

By the end of February 2010, 8,304 PCC referrals had been made from the Acas helpline since the service was launched to accompany changes to the Employment Act in April 2009. Acas estimates that over 5,000 employment tribunal claims have been avoided already.

Rising demand for the service has resulted in a steady increase in referrals culminating in over 2,700 in the last quarter of 2009. The first quarter of 2010 is on track to exceed this figure by at least 20%. At the moment around 300 referrals are being received every week on average, and Acas expects this number to rise to about 400 during 2010.

Commenting on the figures, Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair said: “This data indicates that workers and employers are increasingly taking steps to avoid employment tribunals. The current economic climate has created difficult workplace challenges for managers, HR professionals and employees. The earlier issues can be sorted out, the more likely people will remain in productive employment in the workplace.

“The service is quick. Over half of all resolved cases are completed in around three weeks instead of the six to nine months that most tribunal claims take We have a responsibility to support the economic recovery by resolving workplace disputes early on and in doing so, avoiding costly, stressful and time consuming employment tribunals.”

The PCC service was launched in April 2009 alongside the new Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures following the Government’s Dispute Resolution Review in 2007.

Via EPR Network
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Joe Kiedinger Launches Program To Help People Connect Better With Co-Workers, Spouses And Children

Joe Kiedinger, founder and Brander-in-Chief of Prophit Marketing of Green Bay, believes that the number one killer of employee job satisfaction and workplace engagement is tension caused by unhealthy relationships and perpetual misunderstandings.

To help employers reduce tension and ultimately increase the level of employee satisfaction with their lives at both work and at home, Kiedinger is launching the About Me Card Program, an employee engagement system combining breakthrough communication approaches with supporting software.

The core of the About Me Card Program involves a practical personal assessment that reveals individuals’ fundamental motivations that are most essential to their happiness. With this information, human resources staff, business owners and managers can better understand what drives employees at the deepest level and can assist them with performing their jobs in a more meaningful and productive way.

Kiedinger is holding a premiere event for the launching of the About Me Card Program at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27, at the Meyer Theater in downtown Green Bay. The event is free and open to the public and is being held in partnership with Junior Achievement. The event will include a presentation by Kiedinger, a demonstration of the software, a panel discussion, and live entertainment featuring Let’s Be Frank Productions.

Appearing on the panel will be Mark Skogen, President/CEO of Festival Foods; Dan Swift, General Manager of Dahl Automotive Group; Angela Owen, President of TBL Leadership Partners; Tom Thibodeau, Director of the Servant Leadership Program at Viterbo University; Chris Elliott, Managing Director of About Me International; and Kiedinger.

At the event, attendees will get a glimpse of two About Me Card Programs that will be released in 2011, About Me Kids and About Me Teens, as well as several technological enhancements involving social media.

According to Kiedinger, the About Me Card Program offers important benefits for employers. “When this program is applied to a business, it allows people to communicate clearly without misunderstanding, reduce conflicts, cut tension, hire right and match employees to jobs that fit their talents. In short, this tool creates a whole new level of cooperation and connection between people at work,” he says.

Kiedinger adds that “while all of these factors contribute to increased profitability, what is special with this program is that it helps employers do the right thing—make life better for their employees.” In addition, he says the program is also unique in that it helps facilitate the development of leaders across organizations.

Kiedinger says the most notable feature of the About Me Card Program is its simplicity. “I like to call it a ‘Monopoly’ property card except that instead of being about property it is about a short list of rules to help people successfully connect with one another. The software enhances the experience by allowing people to communicate effectively at the click of a mouse. No other assessment offers this level of immediacy and practicality while providing relevant individualized information,” he says.

Kiedinger says the About Me Card Program is an ideal culture-building tool that can easily become a company’s training program or be integrated into an existing training program. He also says the program can help improve employees’ personal lives by minimizing if not eliminating workplace tension that they would typically bring home with them at the end of the workday.

The About Me Card Program is already being used by a wide array of organizations, and the initial results have been very positive, according to Kiedinger. Organizations that are currently using the program include the United Way of Brown County, Festival Foods, Trig’s, Dahl Automotive, Al Huss Auto & Truck, The Selmer Company and TBL Leadership Partners. In addition, the program is scheduled to be used by a Campbell’s Soup Company plant in Texas in May.

Kiedinger notes that the About Me Card Program continues to draw inquiries from a variety of interested parties, including some organizations from China.

A white paper on the About Me Card Program is available. “How to Produce Highly Motivated and Engaged Employees in the Face of Today’s ‘What’s In It For Me? Workforce’ ” is available at

Via EPR Network
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Acas Urges Businesses To Improve Employee Engagement

Acas, the employment relations service, is encouraging UK businesses to prepare for the potential economic up-turn by focusing on employee engagement.

In its new discussion paper Acas highlights the simple procedures that can increase employee engagement in the workplace, to improve staff retention, increase morale and encourage greater productivity.

It also indicates that there is a good case for focusing on employee engagement as a business priority. Employees who are committed to their work are much more likely to behave in a positive, cooperative way. Engagement is therefore a benefit to both employees and the business.

Ed Sweeney Acas Chair said: “The recession means that a lot of businesses have experienced a challenging period. Inevitably, this has had a knock-on effect on employees and morale. As we approach what might be the beginning of the end of the downturn, business leaders and managers have a responsibility to encourage an open business culture.

“There is plenty of evidence which suggests strong employee engagement can help boost the bottom line. Our advice to businesses is that by engaging properly with staff, organisations will put themselves in a better position to emerge from the recession in a healthy position.”

The discussion paper also highlights the important role played by line managers but argues that they should not work in isolation. It also suggests that to be effective, they need good teams around them and senior managers who support the same values and demonstrate the same kind of behaviours. These include open communication, regular positive feedback and an emphasis on personal skills and development.

Via EPR Network
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Acas Helps Businesses Avoid Employment Tribunal Claims

Acas, the employment relations service, has revealed it has helped businesses avoid more than 2000 employment tribunal claims in just seven months since the introduction of the Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC) service. Due to its overwhelming success, Acas recently expanded the service to include all major types of workplace issues.

The PCC service aims to save businesses time, money and stress by tackling workplace issues early to prevent costly and stressful employment tribunals. On average employers spent just over three days using the PCC service, compared to nearly 14 days on a claim which escalates to an employment tribunal hearing.

Since the introduction of PCC, Acas has handled 3500 PCC referrals from the Acas helpline and 70 per cent of these were resolved without going to an employment tribunal. In fact, even when the PCC service was not able to settle a workplace dispute, only four in ten referrals progressed into a claim by the end of August.

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chairman, said: “It’s reassuring that Acas’ PCC service has already helped businesses save a great deal of money – particularly in this economic climate.

“Furthermore, the new Code of Practice should also help encourage better communication and relationships, ultimately making businesses and employees happier and more productive.

“Over time, as managers, HR professionals and employees become further accustomed to resolving workplace disputes internally, savings will be even more significant.”

In addition to the expansion of the PCC service, Acas has also expanded its helpline to ensure impartial information on employment relations issues is more readily available to employers and employees.

The PCC service was launched in April 2009 alongside the new Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures following the Government’s Dispute Resolution Review in 2007. There are also a number of workplace training courses, which aim to help businesses manage conflict in the workplace and update on employment law.

About Acas:
Acas’ aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. It is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and employer, trade union and independent members.

Via EPR Network
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Acas Urges UK Businesses To Tackle Mental Health In The Downturn

Acas, the employment relations service, is encouraging UK businesses and managers to prepare for the longer term effects of the recession and implement policies and procedures to help cope with mental health issues in the workplace.

In a recently published policy discussion paper, Acas looks at some of the lessons that can be learnt from tackling workplace stress. It advises business and managers to look at how they can anticipate and identify mental health problems in the workplace and what steps should be taken to respond to them.

Figures show that mental health problems cost UK organisations around £26 billion each year*. The latest figures also reveal that the total number of unemployed has now reached 2.47 million**, which could have a further adverse impact on employees’ wellbeing.

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chairman, said: “The economy may hopefully have seen the worst of the recession but the impact on workplaces will be felt far into the future.

“Implementing procedures to effectively deal with mental health issues in the workplace has strong benefits for individuals and organisations. Early intervention can play a critical part in reducing the problem of ill health at work and this ‘prevention over cure’ approach will ultimately help businesses and employees save time, stress and money.”

Measuring the impact of the recession on employees’ mental wellbeing can be difficult as the stigma associated with mental health creates barriers to measuring the true extent of the problem.

Acas is urging organisations and managers to implement effective policies and procedures to help managers deal with the long term impacts of the downturn and safeguard the health and wellbeing of employees. This might include:

– workplace training – to raise awareness of stress and
mental health so that line managers, in particular, can tell if an employee is
suffering from additional or excessive pressures

– Good interpersonal skills – to help nurture trusting relationships with staff who
may be anxious about disclosing their mental health problems

– A supportive organisational structure – that guides managers by providing clear
policies and procedures for managing mental health

Via EPR Network
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Corporate Benefit Coordinators Is Proud To Announce Its Newly Formed Integrated Business Solutions Model, The M-5 Group

In this economy business owners must work smarter. CBC’s M-5 Group gives them the tools and resources to bridge the gap between struggling and thriving. Corporate Benefit Coordinators is proud to announce its newly formed Integrated Business Solutions model, the M-5 Group. Currently comprised of nine powerful firms that deliver innovative quality employee benefits, top-rated retirement plans, more efficient web-based payroll services, premier CPA auditing and consulting, and more, the M-5 Group provides business owners a virtual one-stop shop for all their business needs. Each M-5 Group member brings unique strengths, dedication and specific business know-how within each of their respective fields. Unlike the normal business model wherein the business owner solicits and engages with several entities to fulfill company requirements, the M-5 Group provides an impressive array of independently operated firms that provide business resources that the employer can utilize to streamline and efficiently position his/her company in an ever-more-challenging business environment. Member groups include:

Brucker and Morra – The largest Southern California firm that exclusively practices employee benefits law, this company has a deep understanding of every nuance of tax and labor law, including but not limited to 401K, IRS and DOL compliance initiatives and self-correction alternatives, ERISA litigation and family law.

CommerceWest Bank – Core values, consistency, reliability and a dedication to the highest level of service standards for clients is what this regional and business banking institution is all about. With special features, including Remote Deposit Solution, Concierge, Banking by Appointment, NetBanker Online Cash Management, 48-Hour Turnaround and 24/7 Emergency Banking, CommerceWest stands heads above the competition.

• Corporate Benefit Coordinators (CBC) – A full-service benefits firm dedicated to helping companies achieve their financial and business goals. CBC offers superior group medical, dental, and ancillary plan designs. In addition, we offer compliance and administrative services with hands-on, personal attention to help improve the bottom line. Cafeteria plans, COBRA administration, Health Savings Accounts, 401K plans, and 5500 tax preparation are also among our top-rated client services.

Garret/Mosier/Griffith/Sistrunk Insurance Services (GMGS) – GMGS is a full-service insurance brokerage dedicated to providing insurance, surety and risk management solutions for businesses. Through a combination of claims/loss control services, technical insurance knowledge and alternative cost-effective combinations of risk retention & risk transfer, GMGS is able to dramatically lower the long-term insurance costs for businesses while successfully protecting and enhancing their financial strength.

HR Alternatives, Inc. – HR Alternatives provides Human Resource capabilities to meet business objectives while effectively managing employee related concerns with our advisory support and project solutions consulting. Advisory support provides ready access to certified expert consultants on a retained basis. Project Solutions provides the design and implementation of projects, such as HR Compliance, AAP, Employee Handbooks, Compensation Programs, Safety, Recruitment, Training and Organizational Development. This company’s full spectrum of resources provides an effective Human Resource function at a fraction of the cost of traditional options.

ING Retirement Services – One of the largest and most formidable leaders in the U.S. retirement services marketplace, ING closed its acquisition of CitiStreet, thus reinforcing its long-term commitment to the business and further strengthening its ability to design and deliver best-in-class customer solutions.

Lesley, Thomas, Schwartz & Postma – A full-service, certified public accounting firm dedicated to providing a full spectrum of customized accounting and advisory services to solve business problems and achieve business goals, this firm has a proven track record for producing results.

PayBridge – A nationally recognized leader in web-based, real-time payroll solutions that integrate with retirement plan administration and recordkeeping. PayBridge eliminates repetitive spreadsheet calculations, enables contributions to reach 401(k) plans faster, and promotes timely compliance with federal and state regulations with less time needed for oversight. Above all, PayBridge saves money for clients by streamlining payroll operations. The outcome is a fast, intuitive, and flexible payroll / HR solutions platform that reduces costs and lets managers spend more time growing revenue.

The Pension Group, Inc. – A committed, premier retirement-plan design and administration service group dedicated to Profit Sharing, 401k, Pension Plans and New Comparability/Tiered Plans, The Pension Group’s professional approach saves both time and money for businesses and creates on-going value for clients with appropriate, timely, accurate, personalized service.

Via EPR Network
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