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  • A Labour MP has made a serious claim against the British Army, stating that female service personnel are “too terrified” to make formal complaints over harassment and bullying. Madeleine Moon, who sits on the Common Defence Select Committee, cited the culture of fear that exists within the British Army as what is leading women to be fearful of the impact a complaint may have on their career.
    “You get the general statement about ‘we abhor all discrimination and we are opposed to and will strike it down’, but actually there is not a clear message coming all the way down,” Moon said.
    HR experts claim that female personnel face an overwhelming amount of discrimination at every level of the Army, which includes things like sexual intimidation. It is also suggested that this type of bullying is more prevalent in the Army than in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
    In 2012, service complains about bullying, harassment and discrimination accounted for 43 percent of all Army allegations. This was up by 1/3 from the year before.
    Moon also said she feels like there is a total sense of denial within the Army about discrimination against women. To fix this, she suggested enlisting better role models and more help lines for personnel to access in an anonymous fashion.
    Under a new watchdog, military personnel will be able to make complaints against peers to an independent official from the service complaints commission.

  • The Co-operative Bank recently announced losses of £2.5 billion for 2013. It also announced that it would not be paying out bonuses to former executives adding up to £5 million.
    Last year a £1.5 billion hole was discovered in the bank’s finances causing it to nearly collapse. Due to this, the employer is being forced to cancel outstanding deferred bonuses for executives that left the bank. This news was released at the same time as the bank’s apology was issued to its customers after revealing it did not expect to make a profit this year or next.
    The Co-op Bank recently came under fire after news of payoffs and reward packages for the whole leadership team was released.
    Pay details for the bank’s chief executive were also published that revealed he would collect a remuneration package totalling £2.9 million. He could also receive a three-year incentive scheme based on future business performance.
    Many who oppose these types of payouts are calling the row over remuneration levels “rewards for failure”.
    The bank separated from its parent company at the end of last year and was acquired by a group of US hedge funds.

  • The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority is making some major changes to the rules that govern helicopter use, to support the offshore oil and gas industry.
    Any rules that will improve safety are obviously welcome but regardless of what the rules are looking to improve, they will undoubtedly impact the regular function of the region’s oil and gas platforms. Whilst the aviation industry recognises that safety will never reach the level of the commercial airline industry, there is a lot of room for improvement.
    The CAP 1145 report was published on 20th February 2014 and came as a shock to even the most educated of aviation experts. Senior figures from companies like AgustaWestland, Airbus and Sikorsky said that members of their teams are sifting through the 293 page report to absorb the findings.
    The report came as the result of a review of offshore safety last year following the fifth helicopter accident in four years in the North Sea.
    Modern oil and gas platforms can actually no longer operate efficiently without the use of offshore helicopter support. It is estimated that 95 offshore helicopters based in the United Kingdom operate 228 fixed platforms and 50-100 mobile helidecks in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).
    The most significant change will come in the form of offshore helicopter operation limitations when sea conditions at an intended destination reach sea state 6: wave height of 4-6 meters (13-20 ft.).
    Generally, rules that are set in place in the North Sea are adopted elsewhere. In the short term, the changes will affect mainly the three operators supporting oil and gas operation in the UKCS.
    Some aviation experts feel that the CAA were a bit late to the party, only reacting lately to political pressures. The loss of a CHC Scotia-operated Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma last August spurred an unprecedented social media campaign against the use of certain aircrafts in the North Sea. The accident also had an effect on oil worker confidence in helicopter operations.
    Further reviews of offshore safety are due in the coming months from the government and the three major helicopter operators.

  • Two pilots that were fired by their airline after getting lost over the barrens of the Canadian Arctic may have just got a saving grace. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is stepping to the pilots’ defense, saying that the airline, First Air, “rushed to judgment” in the case of the two experienced pilots.
    The incident occurred just a few weeks after a Transportation Safety Board report blamed a First Air crew’s confusion and faulty training for a crash in 2011 that killed 12.
    First Air cited that in this latest incident the pilots didn’t follow the airline’s navigation procedures when they went more than 150 miles off course on a flight from Iqualuit to Rankin Inlet. The crew realized their mistake with their altered route after another aircraft relayed a radio call from air traffic controllers in Montreal.
    The airline said that the crew members and 19 passengers were never in any form of danger and the flight landed without a hitch. However, the investigation proved that the pilots didn’t follow their standard operating procedures which had been updated and strengthened since the 2011 crash and which should have helped to eliminate any kind of navigation error. The two pilots share about 40 years of experience between them but it has not yet been released as to what caused the plane to head in the wrong direction.
    The ALPA’s official representative said that the union is “deeply disappointed” that the pilots were fired without a full and proper investigation. It added that it would use its own resources and aviation experts to investigate the incident.

  • Research by Pinsent Masons revealed that the number of people trying to track down lost pension pots has reached a four year high.
    It is believed that more than one million pensions totalling £3b have been abandoned and left in dormant accounts.
    The firm found that requests to the Pensions Tracking Service (PTS) to assist in tracing lost pensions increased by 83% (per month) from 2010/11 to 2013/14.
    This percentage equates to about 100,000 people a year that the PTS has to help search for these missing funds. Human resource experts explain that while most of the requests do end successfully, there is still a burden created with the increase in requests. It is because of this burden that the government proposals to introduce ‘pot follows members’ legislation have been put under the magnifying glass. These proposals would ultimately allow for pension schemes to automatically follow an employee once the workers changes jobs.
    Experts reveal that many people don’t stick with a company for decades the way they used to. The UK workforce has become completely mobile and the government needs to adapt to this change. Pensions become even harder to keep track of when companies merge or get acquired, when they rebrand or change addresses.
    On the other hand, some experts are looking at the increase in PTS requests as good news, saying that this shows an increase in awareness among workers when it comes to pension issues. Due to a number of people facing inadequate retirement incomes, the need to keep track of pensions is becoming increasingly more important.
    ‘Pot following members’ legislation is due to come into force in 2015.

  • The head of the UK Military Aviation Authority (MAA) recently expressed concerns over a lack of qualified and experienced personnel across the UK military aviation community.
    Director General of the MAA, Air Marshal Richard Garwood, said there had been “significant turbulence” across the communities regulated by the MAA, as cited in the annual report for defence air safety. These communities were set up as the United Kingdom’s independent military aviation safety regulator in 2011 after the crash of Nimrod XV230 over Afghanistan (2006).
    Some of the shortfalls have been well documented but the MAA found the problem to be more prevalent across various commands and disciplines. This is something that has not been investigated previously.
    Air Marshal Garwood said the turbulence could be attributed to the downsizing of fleets and operational pressures from Afghanistan and Mali, at a time when duty holders were still in a recuperation period from a prior campaign.
    “There is little doubt that the lack of suitably qualified and experienced personnel is restricting progress at every level across the defence air environment and is a strategic risk to a self-sustaining safety system and culture,” Garwood said.
    Aviation experts explain that Garwood is merely trying to look out for air safety, which is currently being undermined by incomplete work, safety modification work that is not progressed and latent risks. Garwood also wants to use his voice to reduce the risks of airborne collisions.
    He believes that the only way to rectify the situation is to coordinate some kind of intervention across the military and civil service.

     
     

  • Lying about your degree qualifications might not get you in as much trouble as you think, if you’re over a certain age that is. Figures have revealed that older workers that lie about their degree qualification in order to get a job or a promotion are more likely to get away with it than their younger counterparts.
    CV checks are actually often overlooked for older workers. The Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) sent out a warning to employers that UK workers who graduated in or before the 90’s could be tempted to exaggerate on their resumes. The government’s verification service said this is because this generation is facing the pressure of being in a job market with fresh graduates. Out of over 20,000 requested references over the last two years, 76% have been to check qualifications of those who graduated after the start of the millennium. Less than 20% of these, however, were about qualifications for people who graduated in the 1990’s.
    Only 8% of the enquiries were classified by HEDD as “unverified”, which could mean anything from incorrect information from a candidate to grade inflation and fake certificates listed.
    One expert explains that graduates who are further into their career generally have more opportunity to tell blatant lies because they simply aren’t being checked out. When a person has been an industry for a while, it is common for HR departments to assume that the previous employer completed an academic background check.

  • Recommendations made by the Resolution Foundation think tank say that workers on zero-hours contracts should be given a fixed-hours agreement after one year.
    The Resolution Foundation was very quick to reject a union request to completely ban these types of contracts, which fail to offer guaranteed working hours causing accusations of worker abuse. This comes as no surprise to many HR professionals since the population of workers on zero-hours contracts is estimated at approximately one million people.
    The report, titled Zeroing In: Balancing protection and flexibility in the reform of zero-hours contracts, says there is a true need for a better balance between protecting the worker’s rights with their right to choose and maintaining employer flexibility.
    Additionally, the think tank recommended that exclusivity clauses be banned. These situations can lead workers to have employment that may disappear at any minute and the inability to look elsewhere for work.   Some HR professionals feel that these types of clauses work against the employee because it is the same as telling someone they cannot make more of a living if their current work situation isn’t enough.
    The report also highlights gaps in knowledge that exist around an employer’s obligations under current zero-hours contracts. Resolutions to this issue include more funding and additional information that identifies what this kind of abuse looks like.
    While the CIPD found that many workers on zero-hours contracts do not feel exploited by their employment situations, the TUC feels as though “urgent legislative action” is needed. The Foundation is trying to protect those that do not feel satisfied in their current zero-hours contracts.
    The TUC would actually like to take things a step further and is requesting the government ensure that staff on zero-hours are properly rewarded for their flexibility. The Resolution Foundation has yet to comment on this request.

     

  • The penalty for not complying with the national minimum wage (NMW) could now set an employer back £20,000.
    New sanctions raised the maximum penalty from £5,000 to £20,000 and employers that fail to pay their workers minimum wage will not be let off the hook for claiming an oversight. With this new regime come very few exceptions. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published a policy describing just how HM Revenue & Customs will deal with employers that fail to comply with the revised law. It cited that the aim of the new enforcement is not to nail businesses with hefty fees but to ensure workers receive what they are entitled to.
    The reasoning is because evidence supports that employers have been disregarding the NMW for years. A report recently released by the Centre for London and Trust for London found that over 300,000 people in the United Kingdom earn less than the NMW but only nine employers have actually been prosecuted for this. Only one has ever been publicly named.
    If an employer is found to be outside of compliance requirements, HMRC will issue a notice of underpayment. The notice will explain both the penalty as well as the wages payable to the employees in question. If the employer does not comply within the stated amount of time, HMRC is allowed to take further action under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. This can even include seizing goods from the business.
    It is going to be partly up to HR departments within each company to school management on what counts towards minimum wage. For example, meals can be included in NMW calculations but tools and uniforms cannot. Calculations can become extremely complex when it comes to employees that receive any kind of consistent accommodation as well. Human resource experts are urging HR professionals that in this particular case, knowledge is power.

  • The infamous black box. It is generally able to aid investigators in determining exact causes of aviation incidents like collisions, crash landings and in some cases pilot error accidents. With Malaysia flight 370 still missing and the black box still undiscovered, aviation experts are beginning to think storing vital flight information in the cloud might prove beneficial.
    A former scientific advisor to Bill Clinton has made a public plea to the aviation industry to update black box technology, so that in the event something were to occur, crucial recording information would be stored and available for immediate and remote access.
    Oliver McGee, Clinton’s Deputy Assistant Transportation Secretary, said that storing black box information in the cloud would mean that crucial data would not be lost. For example, in the event of flight 370’s black box being found, experts speculate that the voice data recorder is probably of limited use since it can only hold the last two hours of recordings. If the plane did in fact change course then fly on for several hours, the cause of changing course will likely never be known for sure because of these restrictions.
    McGee feels as though in this instance, the aviation industry has fallen behind in terms of technology.
    “The Black Box data should not be lost in remote terrains or oceans but rather should be secured and stored in the cloud,” McGee said.

     

  • President Obama has proposed that the United States minimum wage be raised to $10.10/hour. A recent study revealed that if this were to occur, almost 40% of employers who currently page minimum wage would have to let some employees go.
    In order to offset the increase that these employers would have to incur because of the pay increase, the only option some small business owners feel they would have is to cut their staff. Additionally, out of the same population, over half said they would reduce hiring and increase prices on their goods and services.
    A press release from Express said that the increase in minimum wage would put pressure on almost all companies to increase pay for their entry level employees, even those that don’t pay minimum and those that do.
    It is also expected by experts that workers already receiving the soon-to-possibly-be minimum wage will seek pay raises since they previously would have made more than the minimum. This would mean costs would increase for companies that don’t even typically worry about minimum wage.
    While minimum wage seems to be a recurring topic every few years, if the government were to decide to make this change experts are saying it will result, without a doubt, in layoffs.

  • The 30% Club released research last week that had some very interesting statistics. The most profound, however, is the fact that having children isn’t what prevents many women from reaching senior positions.
    A male starting a career in an FTSE 100 business is 4.5 times more likely than a woman to make it to the executive committee but this isn’t necessarily because women are the ones having babies.
    The overall career impact of having a family, according to the study, is less than people initially thought. The research found that whilst childrearing could slow down a woman’s career, it doesn’t affect their overall ability to make it to the top.
    Rachel Short, director at business psychologists YSC, said that the gender gap between men and women turns out to be between those who do not have children.
    Childrearing has also been ruled out as a major setback because careers are likely to last longer in today’s society. Nowadays, most professionals have careers that span four to five decades. Therefore five years of childrearing shouldn’t be the difference maker. Women actually become more ambitious about senior leadership the more their career progresses.
    The report, which surveyed FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, found that men and women share many similar career aspirations when it comes to leadership behaviour. The study revealed that while their aspirations may be the same, even the slightest differences could lead to very different outcomes.

               

               

  • The FAA is currently taking comments on a new testing program. The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (APRM) would require employees of FAA-certified foreign repair stations (and other maintenance providers) who provide safety-sensitive work on United States airliners to be subject to a program that would test for drug and alcohol levels.
    The FAA drug and alcohol testing regulations currently set in place do not extend to companies outside of the United States. Aviation experts and HR experts alike feel that this will be a step in the right direction, since employees testing safety functionalities on aircrafts are ultimately accountable for hundreds of lives.
    The cost of this type of program, however, hasn’t been figured out exactly. If enacted, it is assumed that the cost would be borne solely by the airlines that are being served. The cost could cross the entire customer base also. This would include business aviation even though this type of screening program isn’t required in that sector.
    Experts explain that having the public comment period will allow the FAA to further develop the rule and assess its economic impact prior to an official proposal. The notice invited public comments surrounding issues related to the drug-and-alcohol-testing proposal. Questions listed include:

    • Which drugs are most misused in a particular country?
    • If testing programs exist, are they administered by a national regulatory authority?
    • Are industry participants required to establish such programs under the country’s laws and regulations or does industry do that voluntarily?
    • Should the program require testing for the same drugs theFAAlooks for in the U.S.?
    • At what concentrations should alcohol and drug tests be considered positive?
    • Does a particular country allow or require random drug and/or alcohol testing and, if so, what is the process?
    • If a country does not allow or require random drug and/or alcohol testing, are there laws that prohibit random testing?
    • One thing that is for sure is that testing requirements must be consistent with the applicable laws of the country in which the repair station is located. Since aviation is an extremely international and global industry, officials are urging governments to submit their comments with the rest of the “public”.