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People Matter February 2015

Are you missing out on this pool of talent?

More than one in three disabled jobseekers feel they have been discriminated against during the recruitment process, according to a survey carried out by the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI).

This should make companies sit up and listen. Aside from the fact that it’s illegal to discriminate, a whole host of talented people may be being overlooked when a business is searching for the best candidate. One out of every eighteen applicants is classified as disabled, so in a workforce of over 30 million, a big talent pool is being ignored. Part of the problem could be down to a perception gap. Employers are required to make ‘reasonable adjustment’ to accommodate disabled applicants. But the survey also revealed that whilst 82% of recruiters think they make this reasonable adjustment, 58% of candidates said that they experienced no such adjustment. That maths does not add up.

This is obviously a sensitive subject. And sometimes a tricky one to get right during what can already be a stressful process. But for businesses that invest the time to fulfil their requirements, their reward could be to find a star performer who would otherwise have been missed. If you need guidance in formulating your recruitment policy, including adequately catering for disabled applicants, then contact your local HR Dept today and let our experts help you get your processes compliant and optimised.

Nothing more romantic than a contract

With Valentine’s Day nestled at its heart, February is a time when love is in the air. And the workplace is as fertile ground as any. In fact, co-workers don’t need the cover of Valentine’s Day to get together. Given all the time we spend at work, it is little wonder that staff fall in lust or love with each other throughout the year. It is also unsurprising that the fall-out of office trysts can be damaging for the workplace environment and often, sadly, for the individuals involved. Gossip, affairs, inappropriate sexual conduct at work, sexual harassment claims, jealousy… They’re all nasty by-products of love in the workplace and the stuff of an HR nightmare.

For all the highs and lows that an office romance will bring to various parties, it is the unfortunate Boss or HR Manager who is likely to be encountering the lows. And owing to the collision of professional and private life it may feel like a blurred line as to where and how you should get involved. It will certainly help if expectations of appropriate conduct are clearly communicated. A ‘love contract’ is one route to go down. These have been making their way over from America and not only set out expected behaviour, but also help defend a company against a sexual harassment claim. Whilst for many a less formal approach will be preferred, some may even go one step further. Fashion giant American Apparel recently banned certain workplace romances outright.  For guidance on this, call us and we will gladly be your office Love Doctor.

“So fat you can hardly walk…”

…Was at the milder end of a litany of un-pleasantries inflicted upon a morbidly obese employee.

This playground-like bullying by a colleague became newsworthy because it prompted the first instance of a UK Employment Tribunal finding obesity to be a disability. This follows a ruling last year by the European Court of Justice on the dismissal of an overweight Danish child-minder. The UK case (in Northern Ireland) was Bickerstaff v Butcher. The judge said he was satisfied the claimant was “harassed for a reason which related to his disability, namely his morbid obesity condition.” It is significant that the tribunal appeared to pay little regard to a medical report stating the obesity was self-inflicted and could have been reversed with life-style changes. The tribunal was most concerned with the impact of the condition on the employee, not its origins.

For its part, the employer, Randox Laboratories, said it had dealt with the issue as soon as it became aware of it – dismissing the antagonist, and was committed to a zero-tolerance attitude to discrimination. However, the ruling represents a new level of workplace protection for the obese. Now that it can be regarded as a disability, employers need to take additional measures. So if this might affect you, what do you need to do? A unique feature of disability discrimination law is that an employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments.  If a policy or task puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage then the employer should take steps to remove that disadvantage: maybe allocating a specific task to another person or changing a place of work.

It is a judgement call and if you get it wrong it could lead to a tribunal. Call the HR Dept for help with managing the HR risks associated with obesity, and other forms of disability.

Talk to the hand

Who hasn’t become exasperated with the number of cards in their purse or wallet? Bank cards, driving licence, and in the last ten years, a proliferation of loyalty cards. Many of us also have a swipe card to gain access to the workplace.If yours is bursting at the seams and you pray they will all just disappear, be careful what you wish for! A company in Sweden is pioneering a bionic chip – injected under the skin in the hand – that the wearer (is that the right word?!) can use to gain access to their workplace.In fact it does more.

In the trial they can use the photocopier with a wave of the hand and in the future pay for food in the café. We are all for progression, but the application seems a bit underwhelming given the whole ‘injection in the hand’ process you must suffer first.Time will tell whether this sort of thing catches on, but if you have had any issues with ‘wearable tech’ (such as the ill-fated Google Glass) at work already, speak to your local HR Dept to get some policies in place.

£100 John Lewis voucher up for grabs!

In the next few weeks we shall send out our annual client surveys, and we would love to hear your views. Last year we scored over 93.5% for satisfaction. But we understand that we will only continue to excel if we seek and act upon your feedback. Last time round half of respondents replied which was fantastic, but we aspire for even more. Therefore we are adding a prize draw to the survey this year. Complete the survey within the deadline (TBC) and we will enter your name into a hat to win £100 worth of John Lewis vouchers. Keep your eye out for the survey which will be coming to an Inbox near you soon and tell us what you think to be in with a chance!

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