Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Where Are The Jobs Coming From?

As the economic and other uncertainties increase and the politics become more confused the parties will be retreating to old arguments and forms of debate. One central issue that will be dominating the slanging matches will be how many jobs and who are they for?

In order for people to have jobs they have to be put on offer by people looking for staff to employ. They have to look at what is going on in their firm or organisation and work out what to do and who is to do it.

Clearly the kind of decisions they come to nowadays are different from those in my working life and the kind of jobs and their conditions of service are becoming more and more unrelated to those of the past, especially in the private sector.

The town where I live has many ordinary shops that have gone out of business, incidentally depriving us of any locally sourced produce. They have become agencies for part time or temporary employment or contracted jobs with clear limits.

In addition to those are a number of more specialist and other agencies that do not have shop fronts but work out of offices, also largely staffed by people on temporary contracts.

It is clear that for many companies and organisations, notably those of middling or smaller sizes, it is no longer an option to do your own staffing or personnel work. Large companies may be able to afford the sizeable Human Resources staff to control and manage this and contain what has to be done but even they are exercising far more discretion in the type of job contract they offer.

Why has this begun to happen and why has it become much more imperative for any employer to be very careful and watch their step in putting anyone on the payroll for any reason? Just look at the recent legislation pushed through by the previous government as part of its scorched earth policy.

All these new laws and the rest are big, very complicated and add huge costs and other burdens to the business of taking on and managing staff. Moreover, they were not “joined up” and a great deal was left to future regulations or decisions of a variety of bodies who have no duty to be either consistent within those laws or with other laws that bear on the situation.

The costs of all this are now beginning to impact not only on recruitment but on almost all the costs that fall on consumers and taxpayers. What part it plays in inflation, reducing real incomes and creating obstacles to progress is not known but has certainly made life far more difficult for those at the bottom of the heap.

Here is my listing, make of it what you will:

Employment Act 2008, in force April 2009.

This built on and extended a range of past laws, regulations, case law and EU Directives from the past. It increased the rights of employees and added new responsibilities and requirements on employers.

It has meant stringent control over how employees must be dealt with. To this is added the new Social Security Regulations of 2011. One feature is that now maternity leave can run to a year and paternity leave for up to six months.

There is also added items for sick leave, time off, variation of hours, overtime etc. It is now very difficult to dismiss an employee without substantial reasons despite any “probation”. Also, the Conditions of Service will limit an employee’s work schedule within strictly defined limits which cannot be exceeded.

Equality Act 2010, in force October 2010

This Act imposes a wide range of conditions on employment in terms of gender, race, diversity and other aspects of relationships. Also, it limits greatly the conditions that can be applied to appointing people to jobs or to their treatment in work.

The full impact of this Act and the regulations that will be issued will be seen in the coming months and years. What it does mean that employing people cannot be subject to a wide range of requirements common in the past.

Health and Safety Act, 1974 and EU Directive 89/331EEC 1989

Under these laws there have been a large number of Directives and Regulations issued each year by the Health and Safety Executive which have the force of law. Old ones can be amended at any time as well as new ones issued.

All these, which have been increasing in number, directly affect what an employee can do in a number of areas of work and how they do it. Failure to understand those in the past has been a serious cause of misunderstandings and difficulty.

Disability Discrimination Act 2010

This brings together earlier law and EU Directives together with regulations and has a major impact on employment. Both in appointing and providing for staff there are now substantial requirements on employers.

Should an employee become disabled, either physically or mentally, whether in the course of their work or for other reasons the employer will be expected to make proper provision for them to do the job.

Also, as some disabilities may lead to occasional periods of treatment or sickness the employer will have to allow for this in the conditions of service and employment.

Human Rights Act 2010

This follows the Human Rights Act of 1998, enforced in October 2000 with the added law of 2004. It puts into effect a wider range of requirements and treatment of persons that directly affect employment issues. The full scale of this will take some time to emerge.

Given all this, many firms and organisations could now spend far more time and effort in simply managing and providing for their employees than on the services or production or other functions that they are supposed to be providing.

Once you gave jobs for people to do something to earn their money. Now our government sees jobs not as a means of production but as the end in itself regardless of what is supposed to be produced.

So what is happening to real economic growth?

1 comment:

  1. As the former owner of a small business, I can say with benefit of hindsight that acquiring my own premises, setting up a production facility and employing people was probably the biggest mistake I made. It took up endless time to comply with all the regulations and the many personal problems of employees which impinged on the business.

    If I were doing it again, I would try to stay as a "Brass Plate" operation with an office and subcontract out as much of the production and service requirements as possible. Like Punch's advice to those contemplating matrimony, my advice to those considering employing people would be "Don't". Avoid it if you possibly can. Obviously not all businesses can do this. Building up a team from scratch is much more difficult than you think and, as an employer "Everything in your favour is against you".