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  • It is no surprise that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is facing some tough times. To counteract some of the financial loss and repair its reputation, MAS is set to lay off just over 30 percent of its workforce in an act of restructuring.
    Malaysia Airlines will be brought under the full ownership of state-backed sovereign wealth fund Kazanah Nasional Berhad. The fund is projected to inject about $1.9 billion in fresh capital in order to bolster the airline’s balance sheet.
    Out of almost 20,000 workers, approximately 6,000 will lose their jobs in an effort to remove many long-haul routes from the network.
    The plans to restructure were actually announced on August 29th following the reported second quarter loss of $97 million. Aviation experts explain that Malaysia Airlines should brace themselves for additional monetary loss, especially as the airline seeks to recover from all of their recent bad publicity.
    Kazanah’s goal is to return MAS to profitability within the next three years. MAS will also be delisted from the Malaysian stock market, effectively completed by the end of the year. By next July, Kazanah intends to restructure the business as a new corporation called NewCo that will encompass all existing assets, liabilities and operations.

  • Despite having a considerable time off, one US District Court decision is suggesting that the termination of someone on leave for over one year may make a company vulnerable to claims of failure to accommodate and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    The case involved Rose Cook who worked with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney as a complex risk officer in downtown Houston. Cook was informed that she needed to improve her communication with a new boss. While this was all going on, Cook was diagnosed with premature ventricular contractions and general anxiety disorder. She decided she needed to take a leave of absence, which began on November 8, 2011. This was, coincidentally, the day before a scheduled meeting with her boss to improve the aforementioned communications. On November 9, the company decided that Cook should work at another location to improve communications, cross-train and learn new policies and procedures.
    Instead of working at this different location, Cook thought it would be a better to remain on leave and also objected to the transfer.
    On December 12, Cook’s primary care physician authorized her to work for four hours per day with no travel. She was authorized by her doctor to work at the main office location. When she returned to work, she was informed that she was reassigned to the new office. Cook was under the impression that this violated her physician’s order and she contacted her caseworker who instructed her to return home on medical leave.
    Two months later, Cook’s primary care physician wrote a letter to her caseworker authorizing Cook to work on a part-time basis for three weeks and only at the downtown office “to eliminate stress and new challenges.”
    Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s executive director of human resources told one HR representative that the doctor’s request was “not an accommodation that a physician can or should request,” and instructed the HR representative not to make the modifications.

  • The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Boeing is having trouble selling their 787 Dreamliner to clients. Last February, Boeing Co. had 11 models of the 787 sitting on the tarmac in Washington for sale at a substantial discount, yet all 11 are still sitting.
    These particular 787’s are heavier than the production model now and actually require quite a few repairs in order to meet federal standards. The hefty-11 were originally ordered by Transaero Airlines, Indonesia PT Lion Mentari Airlines and RwandaAir.
    In the event that Boeing cannot find buyers for their 787’s it will have to write them down, potentially at a discounted $100 million per aircraft. This would be approximately $1.1 billion that would work against the company’s bottom line. Aviation experts explain that Boeing is more than likely going to offer some kind of monetary incentive to airlines because, taking into consideration all of the issues Boeing had getting the 787 certified and in the air, it cannot afford another embarrassment like this.
    Experts are being optimistic about the manufacturer’s situation. There are only 11 of these 787 Dreamliners sitting as opposed to a much higher number. If there truly isn’t such thing as bad publicity maybe the news of these sitting ducks will spark the interest of a potential buyer.

  • Aviation has been making headlines this year and not for good reasons. Malaysia Airlines in particular, has been getting heat if not just due to the loss of one of their Boeing fleet members but because of all of the other mishaps that have occurred this year.
    Now, Malaysia Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Hugh Dunleavy is proclaiming the immense need for the aviation industry to improve its sharing of information. Dunleavy explains that the industry needs to clearly define where it is and is not safe to fly.
    Dunleavy believes that an ideal solution would be for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association to coordinate flight safety information and dispense it to the carriers.
    “There is a critically urgent need for more sharing,” Dunleavy said. “This is a risk assessment issue…the situation has to change.”
    Dunleavy defended his airline and their decision to fly in certain airspaces, including the Ukraine but said that if airlines cannot depend on the government to tell airlines what airspace is unsafe, then there is a major problem.
    He also chalked the MAS MH17 incident up to being “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
    Some aviation experts, however, aren’t buying what Dunleavy is selling in his comments. Some airlines had decided not to fly over the Ukraine at the time of the MH17 attack due to information that they were already privy to. Why did some airlines have this information while others did not? More importantly though, did MAS have this information and decide to fly over this country anyway?
    Dunleavy insinuates the answer to this question is no.
    “Military intelligence information as well as commercial input should be shared to avoid this kind of thing ever happening again,” he said.
    The ICAO held its first meeting last month to address how to better share information with the airlines.

  • Four in 10 Americans will not use up their earned time off this year due to the fear of being replaced.
    A new study called, Overwhelmed America: Why Don’t We Use Our Paid Time Off? revealed that coupled with work piling up, many Americans are afraid to take a vacation because of a lack of employer support and/or communication.
    This completely contradicts the widespread acceptance of how important PTO time is to the health and happiness of employees. Forty percent of employees will actually leave vacation days on the table instead of using them. American workers are starting to adopt more and more of a martyr complex in order to show their worth.
    One HR expert explains that some employees wear their lack of used vacation time as “a badge of honor”.
    A cited reason for the fear of using PTO time is because many Americans are still mentally stuck in a recession. An overwhelming number of people lost their jobs when the economy was in a slump and it took, in some cases, years to become employed again. To prevent being laid off American employees will work to the bone to show that they aren’t replaceable.
    The effects of a poor economy still prevail with one third of the respondents saying they can’t afford to use their PTO time even if they wanted.
    This work martyr complex is reinforced by some company cultures as well. It starts from the top. If C level management doesn’t communicate the importance of PTO, employees will not see the importance in it either. Management, sometimes, sends mixed messages about taking time off which can actually further discourage it. Many senior business leaders have stated that they never, or very rarely, talk with employees about the benefits of taking time off. While this may be completely unintentional, the message is still sent and received that time off is probably frowned upon.
    In cases of “use it or lose it” policies, five out of six workers say they plan on using most of their PTO by the end of the year. Unfortunately, 26% of workers reported working for a company that had a “use it or lose it” policy.

  • It may not necessarily matter where you went to school or what grades you got because at the end of an interview, it might just come down to attitude. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that employers are placing a greater value on attitude than academic scores when recruiting young people.
    The Job Outlooks survey asked employers about their hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter, as well as next year. Approximately 200 employers were surveyed and almost half of them said attitude was the most important factor when hiring a young person. A mere four percent of the employers cited specific academic milestones as an important factor when hiring.
    Some human resources experts say that qualifications can be a great indicator of ability but attitude tends to show whether initiative exists.
    These findings support research conducted last year by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.   The UKCES found that 38% of employers actually rejected certain applicants because they lacked a “professional hard-working attitude”.
    The REC’s survey did provide a very positive outlook for the job market. Many of the employers said they planned to increase their permanent staff in the next three months.
    This is actually the best time to be a young person coming into the job market because of all the opportunities opening up. Employer hiring intentions are at a high and other employers are considering taking on more staff.


  • A fixed leave policy recently cost one company a hefty $1.35M in settlement fees.
    Princeton HealthCare System, which operates several medical facilities, recently settled a disability discrimination lawsuit that all started due to a fixed leave policy that was in place.
    The EEOC reported that Princeton’s leave tracking system only accounted for the requirements of the Family Medical Leave Act, commonly referred to as the FMLA, when handling any kind of worker on medical leave.
    It was because of this that the EEOC sued for the termination of certain employees. The EEOC stated that these workers were not yet eligible for FMLA after having only a “few absences,” and stated that some employees were automatically terminated once they’d been out on FMLA leave for over 12 weeks. The EEOC claimed Princeton failed to seek out reasonable accommodations for employees who were absent for any kind of medical-related reasons.
    The Commission proclaimed that these types of actions “robbed employees of rights they may have been entitled to” under a different act. The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, may have actually protected some of the terminated employees from losing their jobs. The EEOC went on to explain how hardline fixed leave policies do not allow for reasonable accommodations under the ADA that may allow employees to return to work after any kind of medical leave.
    In the settlement agreement, Princeton agreed to a myriad of things including:
    No longer requiring workers returning from disability leave to present a fitness-for-duty certification explaining that they are able to return to work without any restrictions.
    Not to subject any employee to progressive discipline for ADA-related absences.
    The company also agreed to provide ADA-training for its workforce.
    The $1.35M will be allotted to any worker who was unlawfully terminated under the former fixed-leave policy.
    Human resource experts explain that while it may seem like the EEOC is trying to make an example out of Princeton, they are only trying to make employers aware of the responsibilities they have when it comes to their employees and their continued employment.