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Only 24% of employers in the private sector say they are under pressure - to any degree - from the majority of their workforce to raise wages, whilst almost four in ten private sector firms say they face no pressure at all.   These are findings of the latest quarterly CIPD/The Adecco Group Labour Market Outlook survey conducted on more than 1,000 HR professional and decision makers.    

However, a slightly higher proportion of private sector employers state that, particularly among high and middle-skilled jobs, there is either some or significant pay pressure to raise wages for certain roles.  23% of private sector employers stated that the reason for the lack of pressure to raise wages is the fact that workers recognise that the business cannot afford more generous pay increases - which underlines the productivity challenge facing many firms.       

In the public sector almost three-fifths of the organisations state that they are under pressure, to some extent, to raise wages for the majority of their employees - which may partly reflect the recent debate about scrapping the public sector pay cap.  In addition, 25% of public sector organisations say that they are under some or significant pressure to raise wages for certain roles. 

The survey also suggested that a noteworthy majority of employers do not face any significant difficulty accessing the skills they require.  Only 13% of all current private sector vacancies are skill-shortage vacancies and only 29% of all employers with a vacancy report that it is from skills shortages.  This suggests that any pay pressure is not likely to come from a lack of skills in the current labour market. 

Employers report that average basic pay increases are expected to reach 2%, which is higher than the previous quarter’s figure of 1% - but is still in line with official data that shows wage growth as being between 1.8 and 2.2% over the past six months. 

The survey also shows that - consistent with the trend over recent years, the average basic pay increase expectations are higher in the private sector (2%) than in the public (1%) and voluntary (1.5%) sectors.  However, whilst overall pay pressure is quiet in the private sector, some parts are under more pressure - for example, 38% of construction employers say they are under some or significant pressure to increase earnings for the majority of the workers.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD Senior Labour Market Analyst, states, “This survey provides further evidence that productivity has a far more significant bearing on pay growth than the tightness of the labour market. Over time we might expect low unemployment levels to lead to increased pressure on pay, as the Bank of England has predicted. However, it’s the UK’s ongoing poor productivity growth that’s currently preventing employers from paying more, not their inability to find or retain staff. This is why the Chancellor in this month’s Budget has to prioritise investments that will support workplace productivity improvements - for example, investing in support for small firms and skills development initiatives that can help to drive productivity gains over time.

In terms of employment, despite the evident optimism in this quarter’s survey, it remains likely that the sharp increase in the number of people in work over the past year will ease during the course of 2018. This is due in part to the impact of continued slower economic growth, the uncertainties associated with Brexit and the prospect of further interest rate rises. However, employment prospects for the manufacturing sector look bright, perhaps buoyed by the benefit of a weaker currency and the strength of global demand.”

Preliminary statistics for 2016 issued by the NTSB recently showed that the fatal accident rate in general aviation (GA) dropped below 1 accident per 100,000 flight hours - to 0.989 - for the first time in 50 years.

The figures were noted at a meeting of transportation stakeholders who were reviewing progress being made in addressing the NTSB’s Most Wanted List for 2017/2018. This list ascertains the most critical areas in need of attention to reduce transportation accidents, with loss of control in-flight in general aviation having been on the list for two years, as it is one of the most significant causes of fatal accidents.

The preliminary statistics also revealed that whilst the fatality rate had reduced slightly from the previous year, the majority had occurred in GA accidents. In total, there were 1266 accidents in GA, with 213 of these accidents involving fatalities.

A spokesperson for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) said “We’ve made some real progress in reducing GA fatality rates as an industry.....there’s more work to be done, but the downward trend is reassuring and we’re hopeful that ongoing work will continue to prevent these accidents”

Travel specialists Opodo recently conducted new independent research which reveals that British employees are trailing behind those from other countries across Europe and the USA when it comes to flexible working hours and taking a sabbatical.

Although 65% of British employees said that they would consider taking a sabbatical, it appeared that they would not actually take the extended break - risking burn-out in the process.

The research showed that, despite UK employees being amongst the Europeans most likely to be allowed the extended leave by their companies, more than half stated that it would be hard to return to work after taking a sabbatical.  One in five of those polled in the UK feel that it would harm their career prospects with their current employer, compared to almost two-thirds of people in Spain who believe that taking extended leave will help them in the future in terms of employability.   More than half of the people in Germany said the same, whilst 49 per cent of people working in France also believe sabbaticals can help with future employment.

The major factors that influence interest in sabbaticals include stress in the workplace, which was cited by 50% of those polled; mental health - 43% and physical health - 32%. 

The research suggests that an extended break from work would actually be useful for many, despite the British employees being least likely of all the nations surveyed to return refreshed from their summer holiday. 

A spokesperson for Opodo stated:

“It is all too easy to become overwhelmed by the stress of working life, particularly now we are working longer hours until later in life. 

Given the advancements in modern technology, many now also have their work emails and calendar synced to their phone, meaning we’re no longer simply working 9-5 but are clocked on 24/7.

Taking a sabbatical can be a great release valve for this stress and offer the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted, whether that’s going travelling, learning a new language or skill or just taking some time off to focus on yourself.”

Worldwide, it seems that reducing stress and improving health are the main factors behind employees needing to have a sabbatical. British employees are the most likely to want to go it alone and are only half as likely as those in the rest of the world to use their leave as an opportunity to learn a new language.

The study shows that just 30% of British workers feel they have a good work/life balance - less than the worldwide average of more than 34% of people surveyed. The countries that rated themselves with having the best ratio of work and personal life are Portugal with 43% and the USA with 41%.   Germany has the least with 27%. 

Although UK employers were rated among the most generous of the nations polled when it comes to leave - with more employees here saying they had a generous holiday allowance - the nation that offers the most flexible working options is Spain, followed by the USA and Germany.  And, when it comes to other forms of flexible working benefits that can help to improve employee welfare, the study reveals that British companies are lagging behind businesses in other countries.

The issue of pilot shortfall in the USAF is not a new one, however the figures turn out to be a lot worse than Air Force officials were citing up until very recently. At the end of the fiscal year, the shortfall had increased to around 2,000 pilots - which is 500 more than previously thought - and as the USAF needs to have about 20,000 personnel across Guard and Reserve on active duty, this means the shortfall is about one in ten.

Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski (who has been put in charge of the Air Crew Crisis Task Force which concentrates on solving the problem of pilot retention) feels the solution is to train more pilots. Air Force graduates have been steadily growing in numbers over the last few years, with 1,200 graduating in 2017. However, last September Head of Air Education and Training Command, Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, said that the Air Force probably needs to graduate around 1,600 pilots each year just to keep up. Yet training and graduating this number of pilots would mean more planes, more instructors and of course, more students.

As an attempt to recruit and retain its personnel, the Air Force has brought in several new measures recently. These include:

  • Changing the way they recruit (lifting the barriers to allow those that previously may have been barred from joining);
  • Increasing Air Crew Incentive Pay (brought in to stop the exodus of experienced military pilots to the airline industry);
  • Expanding their Career Intermission Program (a work-life flexibility initiative to enable talent to be retained);
  • and allowing more retired pilots to be recalled under the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty program.

The Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty program has expanded from the 25 retired officers originally allowed to return for up to a year, so that retired pilots can now serve for an additional three years. The USAF is hoping that around 200 retired personnel will return, some in the role of instructor pilots, so that the ability to train more recruits will widen. Officers who elect to return to active duty will come back at the rank they held when they retired but will not be eligible for promotion. They will receive the same pay and benefits as other officers and whilst not eligible for retention bonuses, may receive Air Crew Incentive Pay.

It is hoped that these initiatives will create a healthier Air Force and ensure combat missions abroad can continue.

Further reading

The Ninth Circuit has upheld a district court’s denial of Glassdoor, Inc.’s motion to quash a grand jury subpoena requiring it to disclose identifying information about eight anonymous reviewers.  Rejecting Glassdoor’s First Amendment challenge, the appeals court found that the company failed to allege - or to provide evidence - that the government’s investigation of the employer for fraud was conducted in bad faith.

Glassdoor operates a website where employers promote their companies to potential employees.   Employees post reviews of what it is like to work at their companies and in these reviews - which are anonymous - employees rate employers in a variety of categories.  These categories include interviewing practices, salaries and workplace environment.  

An employment attorney - Jadzia Butler of Covington and Burling in Washington D.C. - has stated that a recent court order requiring Glassdoor to reveal the identities of eight users of the website, may have an effect on internet free speech.  She says that it is “particularly concerning” if a subpoena can compromise the anonymity of the internet users and added, “Some employees use the platform to report managers' or co-workers' problematic behavior. Without their identities being kept confidential, they may be less likely to do so. That's bad for the employer, who could have been made aware of things it did not know were happening.”

Although the reviews are anonymous, users have to provide their email addresses to Glassdoor in order to post on the website and they are warned that such information may have to be disclosed if required to do so by law.  Glassdoor warns that they “will disclose data if we believe in good faith that such disclosure is necessary . . . to comply with relevant laws or to respond to subpoenas or warrants or legal process served on us.” 

Their Terms of Use state that Glassdoor reserve the right “….to take appropriate action to protect the anonymity of users against the enforcement of subpoenas or other information requests”. 

Glassdoor was attempting to do that, despite an on-going federal criminal investigation where anonymous reviews were posted about an unspecified federal contractor.  These reviews criticized the company's management and business practices – with one anonymous review stating that the company "manipulates the system to make money unethically off of veterans/VA.”

Glassdoor raised First Amendment concerns and the government agreed to limit its request for reviewer details to just eight example reviews, in order to “contact those reviewers as third party witnesses to certain business practices relevant to the investigation.” 

However, the court stated that, "The speakers whose identities the government seeks may well be witnesses to this criminal activity, perhaps even participants in it.”

Jadzia Butler said that the employees are not implicated in a crime and are mere witnesses. She stated, "They did not ask to be dragged into this legal process. Now they and those who hear about their story will think twice about expressing themselves in this way."

Mark Kluger, an attorney with Kluger Healey in Florham Park, N.J. said, "Since most employees who post on Glassdoor probably don't work for criminal enterprises or those that are targets of FBI investigations, the average contributor likely has nothing to worry about."

An attorney with Foley & Lardner in Miami - Mark Neuberger - agreed, "This subpoena is not and should not be the end of sites like Glassdoor or other ones where people can comment about their doctors, restaurants or anything else."

However, Charles Krugel - an attorney in Chicago - stated that, "This decision should make employees think twice about using Glassdoor when employees accuse their employer of serious criminal misconduct."

In a statement Glassdoor said, "We are disappointed in the 9th Circuit's decision to deny our appeal to protect the identities of eight Glassdoor users whose contact information was being sought in connection to a federal criminal investigation linked to alleged fraud, waste and abuse of federal funds."

It added, "Glassdoor vigorously fights our users' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, including sharing opinions online about their workplaces anonymously."

President Donald Trump recently directed Elaine L. Chao (U.S. Secretary of Transportation) to launch The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.

The UAS Integration Pilot Program will be used to integrate and accelerate the safe use of UAS into the national airspace. The program will allow Lead Applicants (state, local, and tribal governments, who will serve as the primary point of contact with the FAA), to partner with Interested Parties (public and private sector applicants such as UAS operators or manufacturers).

The program will gather operational and other data, which will help tackle the most significant challenges in integrating drones into the national airspace while reducing risks to public safety and security. Additionally, according to the FAA it is “expected to provide immediate opportunities for new and expanded commercial UAS operations, foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the Department of Transportation (DOT) on expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).”

Elaine L. Chao stated:

“This program supports the President’s commitment to foster technological innovation that will be a catalyst for ideas that have the potential to change our day-to-day lives”. 

On November 1st, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to overhaul the regulations related to the certifying of helicopters.

The proposal would revise regulations in title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 27 (Airworthiness Standards: Normal Category Rotorcraft) and part 29 (Airworthiness Standards: Transport Category Rotorcraft).

In its proposal, the FAA stated “The proposed changes are necessary to address modern designs currently used in the rotorcraft industry and would reduce the burden on applicants for certification of new rotorcraft designs”.

The existing regulations, which were brought into force in 1964 “.. do not address increasing design complexity” and “have not kept pace with advances in technology for rotorcraft.” Currently, to accommodate changes the FAA either issue:

  • Reoccurring Special Conditions – (when the FAA finds the applicable Airworthiness Standards do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards because of a novel or unusual design feature)
  • Equivalent Level Of Safety findings (ELOS) – (where a design does not literally comply with the Airworthiness Standards but compensating factors exist that provide an equivalent level of safety)
  • Or Means Of Compliance (MOC) issue papers – (document compliance methodologies that fall outside existing guidance and policies)

The changes would “incorporate the requirements of equivalent level of safety findings that the FAA has imposed as conditions for approving certain design features”. The same testing, analysis and inspections as currently would need to be complied with but it is thought unnecessary burdens on both the FAA and the helicopter industry would be reduced with these changes.

The FAA is inviting comments up until January 30th, 2018 and the NPRM can be found here

Generation Z - those born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s - are now entering the workforce and according to a new poll, they will be difficult to manage, hard to communicate with and will not have a particularly strong work ethic. 

APPrise Mobile, a mobile employee communications and engagement solution,  has released a national survey of workplace managers (which relied on a Google Consumer Survey) showing that more than a third believe that managing employees from Generation Z will prove more difficult than the management of previous generations. So far, Generation Z has not impressed their more experienced co-workers according to APPrise Mobile.

More than a quarter of workplace managers anticipate having major communications and training-related challenges.  Twenty six percent believe that it will be more difficult to communicate with employees from Generation Z; 29 percent expect it will be more difficult to train them compared to older generations and 1 in 10 managers (16 percent) also expect Generation Z to negatively impact their company culture. 

Two percent of respondents feel that phone calls will be an effective way to communicate with Generation Z - however, the authors of the report wrote that ‘connecting over the phone could become a thing of the past’.

Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile said, "To the extent Millennials are associated with 'entitlement,' there probably is a level of fear that Generation Z will turn out worse.  The farther away in age, the greater the likelihood that they (the managers) believe they won't be able to relate to Generation Z."   He went on to say that as most of Generation Z grew up with a mobile device in their hands, "there is a tendency and expectation of instantaneous gratification. They want the answers now. They are all about tweets and short responses. As a result, many Generation Zers are going to be too quick to respond rather than deliberate and thoughtful……the concept of professionalism, formality and quality in communications may be a foreign one to many in Generation Z, which could be problematic to older generations."

Bruce Tulgan, founder of New Haven, Connecticut based consultancy Rainmaker Thinking, agreed that fears about Generation Z may not be unfounded.  He said that his own research shows that managers’ biggest worry is that Generation Z will view jobs as short-term transactional relationships and that they will demand a great deal of flexibility and responsibility early in their working lives. 

He stated, "It may be attributable to being raised by helicopter parents who have provided more guidance, direction, support and coaching to young people than any generation in history. Thus, these young people often have unrealistic expectations about where they stand in relation to others and what they can hope to achieve and receive in the first years of employment. They aren't going to want to take it slowly, get a feel for the place, learn who's who and what's what before starting to add value.  They want to be set up for success, and they want to start proving themselves on day one."

The poll found that 44 percent of managers believe that the reliance that Generation Z have on technology will be an advantage – but then not all companies will have the technological tools expected by Generation Z.

Jeff Corbin stated, "Companies aren't necessarily on board with mobile as a business strategy. Yes, they recognize that it's important - but what about the ways they are doing business that hasn’t changed - even though the people they are dealing with and their ways of living have changed considerably?"

He cited that many companies still spend considerable resources creating lengthy newsletters which are distributed as print, intranet and email.

Generation Z has always lived in world of internet connection, smartphones and tablets.  Managers responding to the survey saw this as a positive and 42 percent said that they plan on introducing more technology tools. 

“Most Millennials remember a time when fax machines and landline phones were commonly used and AOL dial-up was the only way to access the internet, but their incoming Generation Z colleagues only know of these things from history books and movies. Bottom line – this new generation of workers expects technology to touch every facet of their life and companies should embrace this sooner than later,” said Jeff Corbin, CEO of APPrise Mobile.

The National Labor Relations Board originally heard a complaint from an employee, Mr Navarro, against Banner Health System – an organization that had adopted a confidentiality agreement covering the sharing between employees of private employee information concerning pay rates and disciplinary actions. Banner was told by the court that policies cannot stop workers from talking about pay.

Banner Health is a large healthcare system in Phoenix, AZ. James Navarro worked at Banner, sterilizing surgical equipment. On February 19th 2011 Navarro could not use the autoclave which is a large, pressurized steam sterilizer normally used for sterilizing reusable medical instruments.  This was because the hospital's steam pipe was broken.

He was instructed to use hot water from the coffee machine for the first step in the cleaning process and then to use a low-temperature sterilizer with hydrogen peroxide.

Mr Navarro was concerned that those procedures violated the established protocol, which caused him to raise questions with various supervisors and do some quick research – none of which allayed his concerns.

After confirming there were adequate clean instruments available for the day's scheduled surgeries and deliveries, Mr Navarro did not sterilize any additional instruments.  He spoke to several other workers at the facility about the problems, and was disciplined for it.

A couple of days later, Mr Navarro visited Banner's human resources consultant, reported his discomfort with the prescribed procedures and expressed concern for his job. That same afternoon, Mr Navarro's supervisor gave him a “non-disciplinary coaching” and - a few days later - a negative yearly evaluation.

The main evidence supporting the claim was the confidentiality agreement and an interview of complainant form – referred to by the human resources consultant – which was the primary evidence in support of the charge that Banner maintained an over-broad investigative non-disclosure policy.  The introduction included the wording, “I ask you not to discuss this with your co-workers while this investigation is going on, for this reason - when people are talking it is difficult to do a fair investigation and separate facts from rumors.”  However, the HR consultant stated that she did not request non-disclosure from Mr Navarro and he did not testify that he was asked to keep the matter confidential – nor his interview with HR.

It was held that Banner's confidentiality agreement violated the National Labor Relations Act but that its investigative non-disclosure policy and treatment of Mr Navarro did not.

On later appeal by Banner, it was found that Banner’s policies could discourage discussions about working conditions - a right guaranteed under labor law, the court said.

This ruling impacts on all employers and shows that even non-union businesses must watch speech restrictions.

An Air Force investigation released last Thursday has revealed that an improperly-assembled engine was the cause of an F-16C crash on April 5, 2017.

The Air National Guard F-16C Fighting Falcon crashed at around 9:17 a.m. - shortly after departing from Joint Base Andrews - about six miles southwest of Andrews and 12 miles south of Washington. The pilot was a member of the 121st Fighter Squadron and was flying with three other F-16s as part of a routine training operation when the plane “experienced an uncommanded engine acceleration, followed by a loss of thrust.”

It was the first flight for the single-engine fighter, following installation of an overhauled main engine control (MEC) unit. The Air Force Accident Investigation Board looked into the crash and forensic specialists found that the MEC unit had been incorrectly reassembled, with the absence of the 600-degree training ring and associated anti-rotation pin leading to the malfunction of a pilot valve. This caused a huge excess of fuel to be delivered to the engine which manifested as uncommanded acceleration, progressing to engine overspeed and a massive engine fire.

The pilot was able to put out the fire but the engine was unusable. He therefore aimed the aircraft towards a nearby wooded area and ejected. Although he was medically evacuated and treated at Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic at Andrews, the pilot was not injured in the incident and subsequently released on the same day.

The President of the Accident Investigation Board, Air Force Col. David Cochran, stated:

“It is critically important to ensure that all small washers, shims, pins, clips, and retaining rings are accounted for during the MEC overhaul process, in accordance with the applicable technical order guidance. Omitting or improperly installing any of these items, as stated in the technical order, did result in failure of the MEC and aircraft loss.”

According to the Air Force, the plane cost $22 million and the environmental clean-up cost more than $856,000.

British Airways (BA) recently announced that a consultation exercise would shortly commence regarding the proposals to close its New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS). A significant and growing funding deficit was cited as the reason for the closure. 

Because of this, thousands of British Airways employees’ retirements have been plunged into uncertainty. 

British Airways stated that the NAPS scheme’s deficit reached £3.7bn in March of this year, making it the largest of all UK company pension black holes relative to the firm’s overall value. The airline said it had paid £3.5bn into the scheme since 2003.  They also stated that in 2015 they had committed to pay between £300m-£450m a year into the NAPS scheme until 2027 and this was regardless of whether new contributions from employees are stopped.

If NAPS remained open to accrual, the cost of providing future benefits could rise to 45% of individuals’ pensionable pay in 2018 – more than four times the typical employer contribution for UK airlines.

The trade unions Unite and GMB slated the move and conveyed their dismay and disappointment at proposals from the airline to shut NAPS to future contributions from its existing 17,000 members. 

It is understood that discussions between the airline and the unions had focused on ways to make the scheme sustainable and the possibility of it closing had not been brought up, until the statement by British Airways.  

In a joint statement, the two unions said, “Our team of financial analysts has worked tirelessly with the airline over the last few months to explore ways to keep the pension scheme open and secure it for the future.”  They added, “This announcement sadly confirms that our advice has gone unheeded and that we have been unable to convince British Airways that keeping the scheme open is the right thing to do, for both the company and its employees.”

British Airways have stated that members would still receive what they were due in their retirement – meaning payments from the Scheme would likely continue for decades. NAPS was created in 1984 and offered members lower benefits in return for a lower contribution rate than its predecessor, The Airways Pension Scheme (APS).

British Airways lost a High Court battle against the Trustees of APS in May after they pushed through a £12m discretionary payment in 2011 to make up for a change in the inflation link.

A challenging period lies ahead for BA, with the company likely to face strong opposition from members, unions and the Trustee Board. However, having regard to the level of NAPS’ deficit and the trend for final scheme closures generally, it should perhaps come as no surprise that BA wishes to close to accrual.

Many defined benefit pension schemes are under pressure due to increased life expectancy of the members and record low interest rates. Pension schemes invest greatly in Government bonds – whose yields have fallen to historic lows in recent years – meaning that the money earned from these investments fails to cover the liabilities that the schemes face.