…in brief

first_img…in briefOn 9 Jan 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. This week’s news in brief…Engineering skills gapBritain’s roads, railways and infrastructure are being jeopardised by difficulties in recruiting engineers, according to a leading engineering representative body. A survey by the Association of Consulting Engineers (ACE) shows that 94 per cent of engineering companies reported problems finding experienced staff. First Acas chief execAcas has appointed John Taylor, currently at the Training and Enterprise Council of South-East Wales, as its first full-time chief executive. It is the first time the position at Acas has been separate from that of chairman. Taylor, who will join in March, said, “With the nature of the workplace changing so radically, this is an exciting time to join Acas.”www.acas.org.ukTUC information bidThe TUC is considering legal action under the Data Protection Act that will force companies to surrender information they hold about employees. Unions could use the act to make companies give them information about employees before they go to tribunal. Employees would then be able to challenge the information.www.tuc.org.uk Partnership assessedManagers are paying only lip-service to the virtues of partnerships between employers and unions, according to a new report. An MSF-sponsored survey by Leeds University shows that despite 84 per cent of employers claiming partnerships were essential to industrial relations, nearly half of the unions questioned accused management of not sharing information or discussing plans.www.msf.org.uk Stress not reportedAmbulance drivers are not reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress in case it damages their career prospects, a report has found. Sixty-four per cent of the drivers who had experienced a traumatic incident in the past six months claimed the risk to career prospects was always a deterrent to seeking help. The Royal College of Psychiatrists report also claims one in three ambulance staff has mental health problems.www.rcpsych.ac.uk Gossip can be hurtfulNew research suggests that what can seem like harmless office gossip can be devastating for employees on the receiving end. A study by the British Psychological Society found that while gossip can be a way of letting off steam, if can sustain bullying and harassment campaigns and isolate and victimise people.www.bps.org.uk last_img read more

Avoid the consultancy tax trap

first_imgThecontroversial IR35 legislation may be here to stay, but it needn’t preventfirms buying in skills from personal service companies. It just requires alittle more craft and cooperation, says David AndrewsManybusinesses have traditionally sourced skilled workers by engaging them throughpersonal service companies operated by consultants. This arrangement minimisesthe risk of the consultants obtaining employment law rights against therelevant business. It also reduces the overall labour costs involved insourcing skilled workers, because the relevant business does not pay employer’sNational Insurance Contributions (NICs), the consultants are not given employeebenefits (such as pensions contributions or private medical expenses cover),and they are usually excluded from participating in any share option schemes.Untilrecently, this arrangement was also beneficial to consultants as they were ableto reduce their tax and NIC liabilities by means of their service companiesoff-setting operating costs against the fees they generated, paying a salary totheir spouses (in order to take advantage of the spouse’s lower-rate tax bands)and distributing part or all of the fees generated by paying dividends (whichdo not attract NICs) to the consultant as the owner of the service company.  However,controversial new tax legislation, generally referred to as IR35, hassignificantly reduced the tax advantages for consultants providing theirservices through a personal service company. A judicial review challenging theGovernment’s implementation of IR35 recently failed and many consultants arenow abandoning this method of operating. The scope of the legislation isfar-reaching, but it is still possible to engage consultants through personalservice companies, provided you take certain practical steps.Thescope of IR35IR35is the reference number of the press release issued by the Inland Revenue on 9March 1999 announcing the intention to change the tax laws. The legislationcame into force on 6 April 2000 and applies to a particular engagement whereeither: –The consultant, alone or with any associates (family and unmarried partners),has a “material interest” in the service company, meaning ownershipof more than 5 per cent of the issued ordinary share capital of the servicecompany, an entitlement to more than 5 per cent of the dividends declared bythe service company or (in the case of a closed company) to more than 5 percent of the assets on the winding up of the service company or–The consultant receives a payment from the service company, which is nottaxable under Schedule E, that could reasonably be taken to represent paymentfor services provided by the consultant to a client; and the consultant would,under the normal common-law test of employment status, be deemed an employee ofthe client if he or she carried out the work directly for the client and notthrough the service company.Helpingconsultants avoid legislationAnybusiness that wishes to continue to benefit from engaging consultants throughpersonal service companies will need to provide their consultants withassistance in trying to avoid the IR35 legislation. There are in effect twomethods of doing this.Theservice company through which the services are provided should be set up so thatIR35 does not apply. For example, if the business engages 21 or moreconsultants, the consultants could group together and provide their servicesthrough one service company. Provided each consultant takes an equalshareholding in the company, none of the consultants would own 5 per cent ofthe shares in the company or be entitled to 5 per cent of the dividends of thecompany. Aslong as the consultants do not receive a payment from the service company(which is not taxable under Schedule E) that could reasonably be taken torepresent payment for services provided by the respective consultant to hisclients, IR35 will not apply. One way around this is for the consultants toagree to take low basic salaries and pay out as much of the profit of thecompany as possible by way of dividends to each consultant as a shareholder ofthe service company.Thisproposal may not be attractive to consultants where there is a significantdifference in fee generation from consultant to consultant, as the only methodof reflecting the difference in fees generated by each consultant would bethrough payments taxable under Schedule E, such as additional salary,commission or bonuses. Makingsuch balancing payments reduces the scope for maximising the tax benefits ofoperating through a service company and therefore this type of scheme will onlywork well where the fee generation of each consultant is similar.Thealternative is to ensure, for each engagement-the consultant undertakes, thatthe common law test of employment status would not point towards employment ifit were not for the consultant acting through the service company. In order tominimise the chance that the test points towards employment, the businessshould be willing to agree with the consultant, to the extent it deems iscommercially acceptable, that:–The contract between the service company and the business does not include anymutuality of obligations requiring the service company (or, even worse, theconsultant) to perform any additional services that the business may requireand forcing the business to instruct the service company in relation to anysuch additional services the business may require–The consultant is free to determine when to provide the services (subject to anagreed delivery date for a project), where to undertake the services and howthe services should be approached to complete the project successfully–The engagement relates to the completion of a particular project, each projectcan be completed in a relatively short period (ideally no more than threemonths) and the consultant does not work for the business in relation toseveral projects back to back which continue for a long period in total–The terms of payment are based on a fixed sum for completion of a project(not  on an hourly or daily rate) sothat the service company can maximise profitability through the efficient andtimely completion of projects–The service company does not have to provide a particular consultant to performthe services and has the right to substitute any qualified person who isemployed or engaged by the service company–The service company has its own offices or place of work and providestransport, tools and equipment for the consultant-Theconsultant provides his services (through the service company) to severalclients, being instructed by different clients either at the same time, beforeor after the project undertaken for the business–The consultant does not receive any benefits (such as sick pay, pension,private medical expenses insurance or life assurance) from the business and thecost of providing such benefits is not expressly charged back to the businessby the service company–The consultant is not integrated into the workforce employed by the businessand does not undertake the same work as an employee of the business at aneighbouring workstation–The contractual documentation clearly states that the parties regard therelationship as one of self-employment and–If contracting through an agency, the terms of engagement between the agencyand the business and between the service company and the agency are consistentwith the above points.Ideally,a business should aim to build up a pool of consultants, any of whom they arehappy to engage. Consultants should then be engaged from the pool in relationto short projects, noting the points above, and the business should vary theconsultant engaged on back-to-back projects.FacingrealityTheInland Revenue will apply the IR35 legislation wherever possible to maximisethe collection of taxes through the PAYE system and so many consultantsoperating through service companies will be caught. If a business wishes tocontinue to benefit from self-employed consultants, it should do all that iscommercially reasonable to engage consultants in a manner and on terms thatwill permit them to operate outside the scope of the IR35 legislation.      DavidAndrews is an employment lawyer at Brobeck Hale and Dorr Comments are closed. Avoid the consultancy tax trapOn 1 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Firms ahead of deadline on stakeholder pensions

first_img Previous Article Next Article More than a fifth of firms have introduced some form of contributory pensionscheme for their employees over the past year, according to research. Virgin Direct’s second annual survey of workplace perks reveals that aheadof the new rules on stakeholder pensions the number of firms offering a pensionwith contributions rose from 26 per cent to 48 per cent in 2001. The survey also shows that 89 per cent of UK staff believe a pension thattheir employer pays into is the most important benefit. Karen Thornber, head of HR at Virgin Direct, believes the increase in thenumber of companies paying into staff pensions is because of new rules onstakeholder pensions, which are due to come into force next month. She said, “For the second year running, UK workers have put a pensionthat their employer pays into at the top of their wish list and, happily,bosses are getting the message as 22 per cent more firms are doing just thatcompared to a year ago. “Although legally firms employing five or more staff will have to offera pension scheme by 8 October, companies do not have to pay into them, so thefact that they are putting their hands in their pockets is tremendousnews.” But the study also shows requests for family friendly benefits at work arebeing largely ignored by employers. More than half of all employees want crèche facilities, but only 3 per centhave them. Only 24 per cent receive paid paternity leave. www.virgindirect.comBy Ben Willmott Comments are closed. Firms ahead of deadline on stakeholder pensionsOn 25 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Learning through doing

first_imgLearning through doingOn 1 May 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Corporate social responsibility forms an integral part of Co-operativeInsurance Society’s HR strategy.  PatAshworth, CIS training manager, explains how everybody benefitsThe values and principles of an organisation are increasingly important inattracting the right candidates for job vacancies. How a company deals with itsenvironmental impact, community involvement and work-life balance are somethinga discerning jobseeker will take into account when deciding which organisationsto apply to. How are the values put into practice once new staff are recruited? One wayis via training and development and volunteering opportunities, which canimprove staff retention and be used to harness the values of the business. CIS has a strong set of values, rooted in the Co-operative movement, whichdrive its commitment to being a socially responsible business. CIS’ communityinvolvement programme is a core element of its HR training and personaldevelopment scheme. Social awareness One specific objective is to develop social awareness via communityinvolvement opportunities. Not only does this enable staff to give somethingback to the community but it also offers an alternative method of team buildingand skill development. Its graduate training course highlights some of the practical skills neededwithin the workplace (giving presentations, time-management) and introducesCIS’ Social Accountability Programme. Graduates complete community challengesas a group, creating a nature trail in a playground or a stimulatingenvironment for a children’s centre, for example. The graduates are required toplan exactly how they will tackle the project and who will undertake whichtasks. The local Manchester and Salford Family Service Unit provides facilities forpre-school children, after-school groups and social groups for older people.Graduate trainees have been involved in brightening the place up. Practical challenges are not limited to graduates. One of the social accountabilityobjectives for last year was for each CIS department to complete a challenge.This included acquiring materials including paints, spades and protectiveclothing, creating enthusiasm within the teams and making arrangements forhealth and safety checks, refreshments and publicity. For those relatively new in a department, it provides an opportunity to takecontrol of a project and to get to know colleagues. For an employee who hasbeen there for years, it is a welcome change from an office environment andgives managers a chance to work as a real part of the team. Staff are able to take time out of the working day to read with children –particularly inner city schools. CIS encourages employees to become schoolgovernors through the One-Stop-Shop scheme, aimed at recruiting those withtransferable management skills to get involved in inner city schools. CIS staff are also involved in mentoring at schools throughout Manchesterand in environmental projects with schools through Global Action Plan. All ofthese initiatives help to build a number of skills, such as leadership, teamworking, organisation and improve self-confidence. Another prime example was CIS’ disability awareness and training programmefor all its 10,000 staff, which concentrated on raising awareness of the issuesfacing disabled people. In conjunction with the North West Disability Service, CIS has alsodeveloped a work preparation programme entitled Return to Work. The three-dayprogramme develops interview skills, confidence and general business awareness.Candidates selected for the course are guaranteed an interview with CIS andsuccessful candidates are placed into a range of permanent positions. So far,10 people have been placed into permanent jobs. These community initiatives complement other forms of development, such asthe introduction of the CIS Training and Development Guide, which outlines therange of learning opportunities. Details for staff are available online,printed or through department representatives. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

OH workers turning to drugs and alcohol to combat stress

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. OH workers turning to drugs and alcohol to combat stressOn 1 Feb 2004 in Personnel Today OH practitioners are increasingly stressed, with some turning to alcohol ordrugs to cope with rising pressures. The shock findings come from a poll of 129 people by recruitment firm OHRecruitment last summer. More than half of those questioned admitted to feeling stressed at work,with two-thirds claiming their work environment had become more stressful overthe past 12 months. A total of 88 per cent had taken five days or more off sick in the past 12months, with 23 per cent blaming their absence wholly or partly on stress. Worryingly, when it came to comparing those who felt they suffered fromwork-related stress with those who did not, those suffering were twice aslikely to use alcohol and prescription or non-prescription drugs. They were also nearly four times as likely to put their absence from workdown to the effects of stress and three times as likely to have experiencedincreasing levels of work-related stress over the past 12 months. A clear sign of the time pressures OH practitioners are working under,emerged from the fact that just 13 per cent said they took a full hour’s lunchbreak, and 47 per cent had a half-hour to an hour’s commute to and from work.Those suffering from work-related stress were twice as likely to have anaverage commute of an hour or more. When it came to tackling stress, most preferred sports and leisure, althoughalcohol, at 21 per cent, was high on the list. For a minority of others, smoking and drugs, whether illegal or prescribed,were their preferred method of winding down after a hard day. OH Recruitment director Sue Lamb said: “The results suggest thatwork-related stress is increasing for both the UK workforce and the OHprofessionals charged with recognising and treating the symptoms, prompting thequestion: who looks after the carers?” The agency plans to carry out a follow-up survey later this year todetermine whether OH professionals have access to the same stress managementresources as other workers, and whether they are being used. Key findings1. Are you stressed at work?Yes – 57 per cent No – 43 per cent2. Has your work environment become more stressful in the past12 months?Yes – 60 per centNo – 40 per cent3. How many days off sick have you had in the past 12 months?Five days or more – 88 per centSix to 10 days – 5 per cent11 to 15 days – 4 per cent 16 to 25 days – 1 per cent 26 days or more – 2 per cent4. To what extent did stress contribute to this sickness?Partly responsible – 17 per centWholly responsible – 6 per cent Not related – 67 per cent Not applicable – 19 per cent5. What methods do you use to combat stress?Sports and leisure – 73 per centAlcohol – 21 per centTobacco – 7 per cent Prescribed drugs – 2 per cent Illegal drugs – 1 per cent Other – 52 per cent6. What is your average daily commute time? Less than 30 mins – 26 per cent30 mins to 1 hour – 47 per centOne to 1.5 hours – 20 per cent1.5 to two hours – 4 per centMore than two hours – 3 per cent Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Good HR is essential factor in relocations

first_imgTheman behind Government plans to relocate thousands of civil service posts out ofLondon has reiterated the fact that good HR is at the heart of the process.SirMichael Lyons, who’s reviewof public sector relocation was published earlier this year, said he was askedto pay particular attention to the people aspects of relocation. “TheGovernment had a strong idea that the people side of things was important; itwas on the initial agenda,” he told PersonnelToday. Lyonsrecommended that 20,000 civil service posts should be relocated to the regionsby 2010, with the possibility of that figure rising to 60,000 by 2015.Hesaid the current agenda for relocation was more radical than ever before andthere should be an emphasis on moving posts, not post-holders.”[Government]departments need to be more disciplined about who needs to move,” he said.”Londonand the South East has aflourishing jobs market and more people can stay and find alternativeemployment.”Agood relocation process is about engaging staff at an early stage andunderstanding that people have different opinions about what shouldhappen,” he added.Lyonssaid recognition that HR is vital to the process was demonstrated by the factthere was a chapter in his report devoted to the human dimension of relocation.Speakingat the Public Sector Relocation Conference in Londonlast week, Lyonstold senior civil servants that changes in working practices were essentialwithin their sector as there was still a meetings-dominated view of business.He also encouraged the increased use of both tele– and video-conferencing. “The status quois open to challenge.” he said.By Mike Berry Good HR is essential factor in relocationsOn 21 Sep 2004 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

A new Late Middle Cambrian paleomagnetic pole for the Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica

first_imgA paleomagnetic study of the late Middle to possibly early Late Cambrian Liberty Hills Formation in the Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica, reveals a stable magnetization with positive fold and reversal tests. The paleopole is based on 16 sites from volcanic and sedimentary rocks and lies at lat 7.3°N and long 326.3°E ( $mathrm{A},_{95}=6.0^{circ }$ ). The new paleomagnetic data support the view that the Ellsworth Mountains are part of a microplate—the Ellsworth‐Whitmore Mountains crustal block—that rotated independently of the main Gondwana continental blocks during breakup. The Liberty Hills pole differs from both previous poles recovered from Cambrian rocks in the Ellsworth Mountains and from the available Gondwana reference pole data. Our pole indicates a more northerly prebreakup position for the Ellsworth Mountains than previously suggested, contradicting the overwhelming geologic evidence for a prebreakup position close to southern Africa. The reasons for this are uncertain, but we suggest that problems with the Gondwana apparent polar wander path may be important. More well constrained, early Paleozoic paleomagnetic data are required from the Ellsworth Mountains and the Gondwana continents if the data are to constrain further the Middle‐Late Cambrian location of the Ellsworth‐Whitmore Mountains block.last_img read more

Throwing light on straddling stocks of Illex argentinus: assessing fishing intensity with satellite imagery

first_imgMarine fisheries provide around 20% of animal protein consumed by man worldwide, but ineffectivemanagement can lead to commercial extinction of exploited stocks. Fisheries that overlap nationally controlled and highseas waters cause particular problems, as few management data are available for the high seas. The Argentinean shortfinnedsquid, Illex argentinus, exemplifies such a “straddling stock”. Here we demonstrate that light emitted by fishingvessels to attract squid can be detected via remote-sensing. Unlike conventional fisheries data, which are restricted bypolitical boundaries, satellite imagery can provide a synoptic view of fishing activity in both regulated and unregulatedareas. By using known levels of fishing effort in Falkland Islands waters to calibrate the images, we are able toestimate effort levels on the high seas, providing a more comprehensive analysis of the overall impact of fishing on thestock. This innovative tool for quantifying fishing activity across management boundaries has wide-ranging applicationsto squid fisheries worldwide.last_img read more

Interactions between climate, vegetation and the active layer in soils at two Maritime Antarctic sites

first_imgIn the summer 2000–01, thermal monitoring of the permafrost active layer within variousterrestrial sites covered by lichen, moss or grasses was undertaken at Jubany (King George Island) and SignyIsland in the Maritime Antarctic. The results demonstrated the buffering effect of vegetation on groundsurface temperature (GST) and the relationship between vegetation and active layer thickness. Vegetationtype and coverage influenced the GST in both locations with highest variations and values in theDeschampsia and Usnea sites and the lowest variations and values in the Jubany moss site. Active layerthickness ranged from 57 cm (Jubany moss site) to 227 cm (Signy Deschampsia site). Active layer thicknessdata from Signy were compared with data collected at the same location four decades earlier. Using aregression equation for air temperature versus ground surface temperatures the patterns of changing airtemperature over time suggest that the active layer thickness increased c. 30 cm between 1963 and 1990 andthen decreased 30 cm between 1990 and 2000. The documented increased rate of warming (2°C ± 1) since1950 for air temperatures recorded in the South Orkney Islands suggests that the overall trend of active layerthickness increase will be around 1 cm year-1.last_img read more

A review of surface ozone in the polar regions

first_imgSurface ozone records from ten polar research stations were investigated for the dependencies of ozone on radiative processes, snow-photochemisty, and synoptic and stratospheric transport. A total of 146 annual data records for the Arctic sites Barrow, Alaska; Summit, Greenland; Alert, Canada; Zeppelinfjellet, Norway; and the Antarctic stations Halley, McMurdo, Neumayer, Sanae, Syowa, and South Pole were analyzed. Mean ozone at the Northern Hemisphere (NH) stations (excluding Summit) is 5 ppbv higher than in Antarctica. Statistical analysis yielded best estimates for the projected year 2005 median annual ozone mixing ratios, which for the Arctic stations were 33.5 ppbv at Alert, 28.6 ppbv at Barrow, 46.3 ppbv ppb at Summit and 33.7 ppbv at Zeppelinfjellet. For the Antarctic stations the corresponding ozone mixing ratios were 21.6 ppbv at Halley, 27.0 ppbv at McMurdo, 24.9 ppbv at Neumayer, 27.2 ppbv at Sanae, 29.4 ppbv at South Pole, and 25.8 ppbv at Syowa. At both Summit (3212 m asl) and South Pole (2830 m asl), annual mean ozone is higher than at the lower elevation and coastal stations. A trend analysis revealed that all sites in recent years have experienced low to moderate increases in surface ozone ranging from 0.02 to 0.26 ppbv yr−1, albeit none of these changes were found to be statistically significant trends. A seasonal trend analysis showed above-average increases in ozone during the spring and early summer periods for both Arctic (Alert, Zeppelinfjellet) and Antarctic (McMurdo, Neumayer, South Pole) sites. In contrast, at Barrow, springtime ozone has been declining. All coastal stations experience springtime episodes with rapid depletion of ozone in the boundary layer, attributable to photochemically catalyzed ozone depletion from halogen chemistry. This effect is most obvious at Barrow, followed by Alert. Springtime depletion episodes are less pronounced at Antarctic stations. At South Pole, during the Antarctic spring and summer, photochemical ozone production yields frequent episodes with enhanced surface ozone. Other Antarctic stations show similar, though less frequent spring and summertime periods with enhanced ozone. The Antarctic data provide evidence that austral spring and summertime ozone production in Antarctica is widespread, respectively, affects all stations at least through transport events. This ozone production contributes to a several ppbv enhancement in the annual mean ozone over the Antarctic plateau; however, it is not the determining process in the Antarctic seasonal ozone cycle. Although Summit and South Pole have many similarities in their environmental conditions, this ozone production does not appear to be of equal importance at Summit. Amplitudes of diurnal, summertime ozone cycles at these polar sites are weaker than at lower latitude locations. Amplitudes of seasonal ozone changes are larger in the Southern Hemisphere (by 5 ppbv), most likely due to less summertime photochemical ozone loss and more transport of ozone-rich air to the Arctic during the NH spring and summer months.last_img read more