205: And finally a look forward to what’s happening in employment news for December 2019
The new Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to consider what can be learned about best practice in immigration systems from international comparators, particularly the Australian points-based system. This is in addition to the government’s request in June 2019 for the MAC to carry out an in-depth analysis of potential future salary thresholds in the context of the UK’s future immigration system. The MAC has now issued a call for evidence from stakeholders to help inform its work in relation to both reviews. This closes on 5 November 2019.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has published a research report, ‘Building inclusive workplaces: assessing the evidence’ which aims to help employers deliver positive change on inclusion in an evidence-based way. A key theme of the research was that employers are often too concerned about creating a workforce that looks diverse, rather than focusing on how employees with diverse backgrounds are supported and included once they are working in the business. The report looks at the psychological theories underlying inclusion at an individual and organisational level. It sets out models for an inclusive workplace and building an inclusive culture, as well as advice on the different ways of measuring progress, such as surveys, focus groups and appraisals. There are also many examples of practical steps for management to take to ensure that inclusion is embedded in organisational culture, policies and practices.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has produced a report ‘Learning on the job: Improving the Apprenticeship Levy’ which sets outs its recommendations to the government for reform of the apprenticeship levy so as to make it ‘fit for purpose’. This stems from the CBI’s concerns about long-term sustainability of the apprenticeship programme, against the background of the problems which have emerged since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017. The overall number of apprenticeships has fallen since the introduction of the levy, and 26% of levy-paying organisations have stated that they do not use their levy, instead treating it as a tax. Recommendations in the report include: introducing a £100 million annual government top-up fund which would allow firms of all sizes to continue using the scheme to spend on apprentices of all ages and skill levels; issuing a public consultation on options after 2020, including broadening the apprenticeship levy into a flexible skills levy; engaging smaller firms with practical, online support and locally-led ‘matching services’ to allow more large firms to pass on unused funds; and helping firms better understand how the levy is working and how their contributions are being spent.
A number of FTSE 100 companies have cut pension contributions for directors as a result of pressure from shareholders. The Investment Association, the trade body representing UK investment managers, has found that 30 of these companies have made significant changes as a result of its February 2019 guidance that pension contributions for executive directors should be paid in line with the majority of their workforce. Among the 30 companies, 17 have pledged that any new director will be paid pension contributions in line with the workforce and four have reduced contributions for incumbent directors. In addition, three companies have recently appointed new directors on the basis that their pension contributions will be paid in line with those of the workforce.
The Ministry of Justice has published the latest Employment Tribunal quarterly statistics for the period of April – June 2019. The statistics show that single claims have increased by 14% compared with the same period in 2018, with the outstanding case load increasing by 19%. Crucially for Tribunal users, the mean age of cases at the time of disposal increased by five weeks to 33 weeks in total. Annual statistics for 2018 – 2019 have also been published, showing that 121,111 claims were accepted by Tribunals compared with 109,685 in the previous year. Levels of compensation for unfair dismissal and all forms of discrimination other than age have decreased. Finally, the median award for a successful unfair dismissal claim was £6,243, compared to £8,015 in the previous year. For disability claims, the median award was £12,156, down from £16,523.