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 A number of questions for employers and employees are being raised due to the vagueness resulting from the Brexit referendum and the prospect of the UK leaving the EU. 

Dominating the HR agenda will be projects for data protection and gender pay reporting. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018 – when employers will be required to carry out audits of employee personal data that they collect and to make certain that it meets the conditions for employee consent.  Employers will also have to create new record-keeping requirements.  As this will come into effect before the UK leaves the EU, organisations not compliant will risk a fine of up to 20 million Euros or 4% of worldwide turnover.  

Organisations with 250 employees or more are also being required to publish gender pay gap information for the first time.  This will apply to the private sector, voluntary sector and public sector organisations.  The gender pay gap regulations are expected to have an implementation deadline of April 2018.

In addition employers are likely to experience increasing costs as the apprenticeship levy and extra fees for foreign worker sponsorship are introduced.  There were financial changes for employers sponsoring foreign workers which took effect in April but some new entrants to the job market - and some health and education staff - will be exempt from the new salary threshold until 2019.

Tax savings for employee benefits are also likely to be reduced and many employers will have had to reconsider their schemes, as salary-sacrifice schemes have been abolished.  However childcare, cycle to work and low emission car schemes have not been affected and all schemes in place prior to April of this year will be protected until April 2018.  Arrangements relating to car, accommodation or school fees are protected until 2021.

The alignment of rates for the national living wage - plus current and future rates for statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and sick pay have already taken place.

New trade union balloting rules will apply too.  Under these rules, a successful vote for strike action will mean that 50% turnout and a majority vote in favour will be required.  Important public services will need a vote of 40% of all eligible voters.

The HR profession is being expected to help managers and employees to navigate their way through the short and medium-term implications of Brexit, especially as the effects of HR policy and practice become clearer.

In August, the NTSB released a Safety Alert entitled ‘Flying on Empty - Prevent the Preventable with Careful Fuel Management’. After investigating numerous fuel-related accidents, they have concluded that fuel exhaustion and fuel starvation continue to be leading causes in the list of top ten aviation accident occurrence categories. It ranks 6th on the list behind such categories as loss of control and system failure.

Between 2011 and 2015, there were on average 50 accidents per year caused by fuel management issues – 56% to do with fuel exhaustion and 35% fuel starvation. (Fuel exhaustion is the term for running out of fuel, whereas fuel starvation is where the fuel onboard isn’t reaching the engines).

In the Safety Alert, the NTSB stated that pilot complacency and overestimation of flying ability plays a role in fuel management accidents. This appears to be proved by the fact that 48% of pilots involved in this type of accident hold either a commercial or air transport pilot certificate, whereas only 2% were student pilots.

The Safety Alert goes on to state that “Running out of fuel or starving an engine of fuel is highly preventable”. It says that “Prudent pilot action” can help eliminate issues that contribute to these types of accidents and lists examples of what can be done. This includes visually confirming fuel quantities during pre-flight inspections and making sure there is a fuel reserve on every flight.

The full Safety Alert can be found here.

When President Donald Trump announced the projected cost  of new Air Force One aircrafts was too high, the U.S. Air Force (who oversee both the acquisition and operation of the aircraft) initially found a way to slash expenditure by buying a pair of Boeing 747-8 jets ordered, but never delivered to, a bankrupt Russian airline.

President Trump wants to save $1 billion on the estimated $4.2 billion replacement of the pair of 747’s currently in use as the “flying White House”, therefore further cost-cutting moves have been put forward by the Air Force. These include a proposal to eliminate the ability to refuel in flight. Although the current aircraft have allegedly never made use of the capability, the argument is that while it has always been considered an essential security feature (for keeping the president in the air and out of the way during an emergency), the latest jets have a range of nearly 1,800 nautical miles, which will allow them to take the President nonstop from Washington to almost anywhere in the world.   

Other ways of cutting costs that are being considered consist of using largely commercial interior furnishings (rather than custom made) and negotiating better deals with Boeing and their subcontractors for seats and other items inside the planes. Additionally, the air handling system will probably remain as an off the shelf commercial system, rather than the upgrade previously proposed.  

In a briefing last year to then President elect Trump, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stated: “Understandably, all these modifications and customizations, implemented in the appropriately secure facility with all personnel cleared to the highest level, drive considerable cost into the aircraft...”

However, what the Air Force is unlikely to cut costs on are the secure communications, self-defense systems and electrical systems powerful enough to support all the systems. With engineers still figuring out the design, layout and costings, work on the presidential transport isn’t likely to even start until 2019.

Where gender pay gap reporting is concerned, new research has shown that many organisations are finding the process confusing and misleading and fewer than half of UK companies think the requirement to publish their gender pay gap will have any impact on closing it.

Mercer’s 2017 Gender Pay Gap Reporting survey was to further last year’s research conducted to gain information from HR and Reward professionals on their awareness, concerns and plans surrounding the legislation. It was also seeking to discover how far organisations had progressed.  Participants were found to welcome changes in the regulations and are in favour of the legislation in principle. It is clear that HR professionals implementing the legislation are concerned about the complexity, difficulty and misleading nature of the measures used and therefore, a lot of effort is expected to be made in clarifying and explaining the results - both internally and externally.

A study by Mercer of 165 companies revealed that 41% found the process complex; 29% thought it was confusing and 28% found the rules misleading. Just 7% described the process as comprehensive and only 3% said it was simple.

Of the businesses taking part in the survey, almost 44% plan on reporting later in the year –whilst 28% said they do not know when they will report.

Charles Cotton, senior performance and reward manager at the CIPD stated, “Employers shouldn’t be tempted to put off reporting to the last moment. If they haven’t already started, they need to think about how they communicate to employees, potential workers, existing customers and other stakeholders, what the figures mean, and what action they are going to take and why.”

Mercer also found that 70% of the organisations surveyed would release an explanation of their gender pay figures along with the hard data.

Chris Charman, principal and reward expert at Mercer said, “Although committed to the principle of reporting, many UK companies feel the figures will show an overly simplistic view and so see a need to explain further to their staff and shareholders.  Many companies are concerned about the risk of reputational damage when publishing their figures, especially as there still seems to be much confusion between the gender pay gap and the legal requirement of equal pay for equal work.”  He added, “Most organisations are focused on getting to grips with the figures and developing a narrative to explain. Leading organisations are well advised to think about how they can be looking ahead in order to be making improvements in future years. At the heart of this is looking at root causes, which can be found in pay, female promotion and the jobs that men and women predominate in.”

Mercer’s point of view on Gender Pay Gap reporting is partly about pay, but largely about workforce profile and dynamics - such as hiring; promotion rates of women versus men and occupational segregation. They state that understanding the wider issue requires insight, but real success comes from recognising this as a business issue – higher levels of diversity in organisations are associated with greater business performance and innovation.

According to statistics released by the U.S. FAA, the total number of Category A and B runway incursions dropped dramatically for the fiscal year 2017, which runs through to the end of September.

A runway incursion, as described by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), is any unauthorized presence on a runway. Category A is defined as “a serious incident in which a collision was narrowly avoided” and Category B as “an incident in which separation decreases and there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in time-critical corrective/evasive response to avoid a collision.”

The total number of Category A and B incursions has declined to six for 2017, two of which involved commercial aircraft but with the vast majority falling into Categories C and D, which pose no risk of collision. In comparison, in the fiscal year 2000 a total of sixty seven Category A and B incursions occurred, forty three of which involved commercial aircraft. However whilst the numbers then dropped for the next 10 years, there has been a year on year increase in the last three years, culminating in nineteen events in 2016.  

The FAA have stated that reducing runway risk is a top priority, with the most serious A and B Category incursions obviously being the emphasis. One way the agency is trying to reduce incidents is with training, safety management systems and by developing runway status light technology (RWSL). Currently being used at eleven US airports, this is an in-pavement airport light which illuminates red at taxiway/runway crossings to signal a potentially unsafe situation.

The controversial, workload-increasing changes to the U.S. EEO-1 have been ‘stayed indefinitely’.

The new ruling was announced by Randel Johnson – the VP of Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – who addressed the members of the Chamber’s Labor Relations and Employee Benefits Committee by saying:

“We have just learned that the deadline for compliance with the new EEO-1 form reporting requirement for data on hours and compensation will be stayed indefinitely.  According to our sources (The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the office of Management and Budget) based their decision on two grounds, one of which was the appeal submitted by the Chamber that highlighted the new form’s problems with cost, utility and confidentiality.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will be publishing further details about what actions they will be taking and any future deadlines and timelines in the Federal Register.  This is a victory – not just for the business community but for common sense in the world of regulations and information collection.  As you know, the Chamber was at the forefront throughout the development of the revised form in crafting arguments opposing EEOC’s gross overreach in expanding the existing EEO-1 form to unmanageable proportions, without any discernible benefit.  We will provide more details on this important development as they become available....”

As it has previously been reported, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was to require employers of 100 or more employees – and federal contractors with 50 or more employees – to give compensation data with their EEO-1 reports.

In addition, the EEO-1 filing deadline of September 30, 2017 was to be moved to March 31, 2018 with reports due on March 31 of every subsequent year.

Employers would continue to categorize employees, first by EEO-1 job category using EEOC’s 10 job categories and then by sex and ethnicity or race.

These have not changed but after reporting those details, employers would then categorize their employees by pay bands. The EEOC has added a total of 12 pay bands to the form – starting with $19,239 and under and ending with $208,000 and over.  Employers would add up the number of employees in each pay band by sex, and ethnicity or race. Finally, the new rules require firms to report the total number of hours worked by employees in each pay band.

Victoria Lipnic, Acting Chair of the EEOC received a memorandum from the Administrator of the OIRA, Neomi Rao stating that the new form can continue to be used but only to collect the usual EEO-1 information, i.e. the number of employees by race, sex and ethnicity in each of the 10 EEO-1 categories.

In addition to their basic pay (a rate determined by their rank's Department of Defense pay grade), airmen in the United States Air Force are eligible for a variety of supplemental payments and allowances including flight pay, combat pay and food and housing allowances. For the first time since 1999, on October 1st flight pay, which will now be known as Air Crew Incentive Pay, will increase from $840 a month to $1,000 a month for officers and from $400 a month to $600 a month for enlisted aircrew.

As well as the pay increase, the Air Force is also increasing the eligibility for its Aviation Bonus Program. This Program offers retention bonuses of up to $35,000 a year for pilots who stay in the service. It will now include airmen who are not currently under service contracts, those who have never signed up for a retention bonus in the past, and those whose contracts may have expired.

The announcement of the pay increases and Bonus Program was made by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson as part of an effort to stop the exodus of experienced military pilots to the airline industry. Military pilots have the training and flight hours necessary to fly for the major airlines, without having to work for smaller regional airlines first. The major airlines also offer a higher salary than the Air Force and in 2007, the FAA increased the mandatory retirement age for pilots to 65, giving them a longer and therefore more lucrative career path.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson stated:

“We have a number of positions around the Air Force that require the expertise of someone who has been a military pilot, and we’d like to be able to keep our pilots who are current in the aircraft, in the aircraft, and try to fill some of these vital flight slots with people who have the experience needed but who have subsequently retired from the service.”

Wilson also announced that Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski has been put in charge of its Air Crew Crisis Task Force which concentrates on solving the problem of pilot retention.

Further reading: The USAF look into pilot sharing with the major airlines

Randstad US - one of the largest national staffing and HR service organizations - released a report in August stating that 82 percent of job seekers are frustrated with an excessively automated recruiting experience.  Candidates who apply online for jobs and never hear back from potential employers about the status of their applications are particularly affected.

Research findings are based on an OmniPulse survey fielded by national polling firm Research Now on behalf of Randstad US and was fielded for four days in June 2017.  It reviewed approximately 1,200 respondents over the age of 18 years with a nationally representative sample balanced on age, gender and region. Most applicants for jobs agreed with the technology used but were irritated when it replaced the human side of the recruiting procedure. 

The report found that 95 percent of those reviewed stated that technology should be used to assist recruitment – not replace it; 85 percent said technology made seeking employment more impersonal and 82 percent said that ideally, innovative technologies should be used in the background and come second to personal interaction.   In effect, in working with staffing or recruitment firms, candidates named ‘a company that uses innovative technologies to find me jobs but puts human interaction first’ as the most appealing. 

Linda Galipeau, North America CRO of Randstad based in Atlanta said:

“The findings reinforce what we've believed for quite some time - that successful talent acquisition lies at the intersection of technology and human touch.  If done correctly, the right combination of personal interaction with the power of today's intelligent machines can create an experience that is inherently more human."

William Tincup of SHRM-SCP, an expert on recruiting technology and president of recruitment media company RecruitingDaily stated:

“Artificial intelligence (AI) programs may help improve the candidate experience.  For example - recruiters are horrible at letting candidates know where they are in the recruiting process - AI will make it so that feedback is consistently given."

Linda Galipeau also remarked:

"Employers today and in the future will be judged by the experience they create for prospective new hires. Job candidates are empowered to provide instant feedback on employers, rating a company's candidate experience just as they would rate a movie. In a tightening labor market, companies cannot afford to lose potential talent due to a poor hiring experience. And in a technology-driven world of talent, it's not only about how a company markets itself but what others say about the company that has a positive impact on employer branding."

Pete Lamson, CEO of JazzHR - a recruiting software company based in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania - agreed and stated:

"I think certainly being highly responsive helps, respond back, it reflects back on the employer's brand."

Job seekers have become increasingly savvy about what makes a great candidate experience and what leaves them with a less-than-favorable impression. Respondents to the survey named "the degree of personal, human interaction during the process," and "the recruiter/hiring manager I worked with," as having most influenced their positive impression. 

Alan Joyce, the chief executive of Qantas has challenged Airbus and Boeing, the world’s largest aeroplane makers, to build a jet that could fly from Sydney to London, nonstop.

The Australian airline wants a Boeing 777X or Airbus A350ULR to be able to cover the 9,000 mile, 20 hour trip, without a stop for fuel and with a full load of paying passengers or cargo. Currently airplanes can almost cover the distance but not with a full payload.

"This is a last frontier in global aviation," Joyce announced last week to investors, at the same time as reporting the company’s quarterly results.

A direct flight would take around four hours less than on today’s flights which at the moment have to stop for fuel. “We believe advances in the next few years will close the gap, and Qantas has the unique operational experience to be the airline that helps make it happen,” Joyce said. “This would be one of the most strategically important aircraft orders in the history of Qantas.”

Qantas is hoping to be able to undertake routes from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by 2022 and has dubbed the campaign “Project Sunrise” in reference to the double sunrise flights operated by the airline in World War II.

Whilst the airline currently hold the record for the world’s longest flight - its Dallas-Fort Worth to Sydney service takes around 17 hours to cover the 8,500 mile trip – from next year Emirates plan to beat this with a Dubai to Panama City service.

In light of the close call last month when an Air Canada Airbus A320 aborted its landing at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Federal regulators have made significant changes to landing procedures and control tower staffing levels.

According to the NTSB, just before midnight on July 7th, Air Canada Flight 759 had been cleared to land on Runway 28-Right but instead lined up its approach for the parallel taxiway. The plane had travelled almost a quarter of a mile over the taxiway and flew as close as 30ft to another aircraft before the pilot aborted his landing. United Airlines pilots in one of the waiting planes alerted air traffic controllers (ATC) of the imminent collision and other planes on the taxiway turned on their landing lights as warning.

The Air Canada flight crew told investigators that as Runway 28-Left was closed and in the dark, their sight-line was shifted to the right, causing them to believe Taxiway C which runs parallel to Runway 28-Right, was their approved runway.  

The new policies implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mean that visual approaches for aircraft approaching SFO at night with an adjacent parallel runway closed, are no longer allowed. Pilots will therefore be required to do an instrument landing using the runway’s advanced guidance systems.

Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman said:

"When these conditions prevail, our controllers (will) issue pilots Instrument Landing System approaches or satellite-based approaches, which help pilots line up for the correct runway."

In addition, the FAA have required two air traffic controllers to be on duty throughout the late-night arrival rush. Although two controllers were working on the night of 7th July, only one was in the tower, and he was busy at the time talking to another facility. Ian Gregor added:

 “Following the event, SFO tower management adopted a policy requiring two controllers to be on position working traffic until the late-night arrival rush is over.”

In a few months time, the FAA also plans to begin testing modified radar systems at its Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. Although these systems were originally designed to prevent runway rather than taxiway incursions, they would allow a facility's ground surveillance systems to alert ATC when an aircraft is attempting to land on a taxiway rather than a runway.

Further reading: Close call by Air Canada Plane

A new report found that nearly four in ten American adults don't have a job and are not looking for one.

President Donald Trump alleged – in his election-season – that America’s unemployment rate did not tell the whole story and is ‘one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics’.  He claimed that the real unemployment rate could actually be 40 percent higher.

Anyone without a job and who has been actively seeking work in the last four weeks is considered, by the government, to be unemployed.  Slipping through the cracks are those who have simply given up trying to get back into the labor force.

A new study by Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, takes a closer look at the more than ninety-four million Americans not counted in the labor force.  In this analysis, the following questions were explored.  Of the approximately twenty four million men and women of working age who were not in the labour force in 2016:

  • What are the reasons given for not working or seeking work?
  • With whom are these persons living?
  • How are they making ends meet?

The findings were that women with a high school education or less are overwhelmingly the largest group out of the labor force.  Excluding the care givers - who make up approximately forty percent - men and women give the same reasons for not belonging to the labor force.  Almost thirty per cent report being ill or disabled; eight percent are students and five percent have retired early.

Male and female nonparticipants were found to have different living arrangements, with females living with a spouse or partner and males living with parents.  Almost seventy five percent of these live in a household with earned income and only eleven percent report claiming income from a safety net when they are not receiving earned income.  More than 1.3 million Americans who are not in the labor force report having no income at all.   Forty five percent of households with a male prime-age nonparticipant and twenty eight percent with a female prime-age nonparticipant are in the bottom income group.

Researchers also found that more women than men sat on the sidelines in every educational subgroup, despite the fact that more women hold advanced degrees than men.

The report said, "Interestingly, the gender ratios among nonparticipants become more imbalanced as education increases. Among nonparticipants with a high school degree or less, there are nearly 2 women for every man; at the bachelor's degree level, three-and-a-half times as many women as men are nonparticipants."

Roughly 13 percent were not in any of the categories but had worked in some capacity over the course of the past year.

"Labor force participation is the key channel through which Americans contribute to and benefit from their economy, making it vital that we understand who is left out of the labor force," the report said. "Economic growth and broad sharing in that growth are both enhanced when the labor market makes the best possible use of workers' talents."