Employers are divided over whether employment tribunal fees should be scrapped because workers can no longer afford to make the claims, research shows. Since the fee system was introduced 14 months ago, the amount of claims has fallen by 70% to reduce vexatious cases.
Bosses of firms pressurised the Government to introduce deterrents in order to reduce the likelihood of drawn-out cases, as they were faced with costly and time consuming hearings.
However, the sharp drop in claims, coupled with union protests, has forced a rethink and Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has launched a review of tribunal fees, while Labour has promised a rethink if it wins the general election.
In a poll of 1,000 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the unease among employers regarding the fees was reflected. 38% represented the majority who voted for no change but 36% believed the fees should be either significantly reduced or abolished altogether. The remaining 27% were undecided.
Employees with a dilemma can expect to pay up to £1,200 to bring a claim before a tribunal under the current fee system. Employers revealed that their costs to defend a case can accumulate to several thousand pounds and also involve them spending an average of 18 working days at hearings.
UK unemployment has fallen by 102,000 to 1.86m in the three months to January, official figures show. The unemployment rate remains at 5.7% but the number of people in work is at an all-time high, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance also fell to 791,200, its lowest level since 2008. Average earnings in the three months to January, including bonuses, rose 1.8% compared with a year earlier. Regular pay, which excludes bonus payments, rose by 1.6%, in the same period compared with a year ago. It means earnings continue to outstrip consumer price index (CPI) inflation, which official figures showed fell to a record low of 0.3% in January.
The employment rate now stands at 73.3%, the highest rate of people in work since the ONS began keeping records in 1971. However, the number of young people out of work has stayed stubbornly high. The ONS said the number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work fell by just 12,000 in the three months to January, to 743,000 – a rate of 16.2%.
A survey by recruitment company Bullhorn has shown Twitter has overtaken Facebook as the preferred recruitment network for candidates and recruiters in the UK.
The firm conducted a Global Social Recruiting Activity Report, which reviewed the social media activity of 33,800 UK recruiters, and found that 28% of recruiters are now active on Twitter, compared to just 15% on Facebook.
According to the report, Twitter averages 2.5 times as many views per job posting as Facebook and receives an average of 1.4 applications per job posting.
The research also reveals UK recruiters’ average LinkedIn connections increased 12% from 840 to 940, compared with a 46% increase in Twitter followers to an average of more than 550. That coincides with Twitter’s own rapid growth in the UK, swelling from 10m active users in 2013 to nearly 15m in 2014.
Peter Linas, international MD of Bullhorn, commented on the findings: “While LinkedIn retains its title as the world’s largest professional network, candidates are beginning to look elsewhere for jobs, meaning recruiters can’t just rely on LinkedIn – today’s most successful recruiters must be active across a whole range of social platforms if they are to maximise their chances of finding the best candidates.
The British Chambers of Commerce has increased its 2014 GDP to 3.2% from 3.1%, the highest growth rate since 2007. It has also upped its forecast for 2015 to 2.8% from 2.7% and left 2016 unchanged at 2016.
The increase reflects stronger employment figures and higher than expected growth in Q3 and Q4 2014 than previously forecast in May.
The business group, which represents thousands of companies across the UK, is forecasting a moderate slowdown in growth from 2015 reflecting a deceleration in household consumption and falling public spending as a share of GDP.
BCC Director General John Longworth says we must do everything possible to ensure the strong growth in 2014 is not a flash in the pan. He calls the expected slowdown in 2015 and 2016 a warning sign for the UK which is currently too reliant on consumer spending as a growth driver. He added “We must make sure the stellar growth in 2014 is not a flash in the pan.”
The BCC is forecasting GDP growth of 0.8% in Q3 2014 but has reduced its estimate of exports of goods and services to 0.8% for 2014 from 1.9% and to 4.1% from 4.2% in 2015.
The group is still forecasting the first rise in UK interest rates in Q1 2015 to 0.75% with interest rates reaching 2.25% by Q4 2016. It also expects the unemployment rate to continue to fall to 5.5% in Q2 2015, 5% in Q2 2016 and to 4.9% in Q2 2017.
A report from Incomes Data Services (IDS) says UK businesses are planning to hire more graduates this year as confidence in the economic recovery grows, but warns that job seekers fresh out of university should expect lower starting salaries.
UK employers are expecting to take on 18% more graduates this year following a 4.3% increase in 2013. The study surveyed over 100 organisations and found that the financial services sector was particularly bullish looking to emply 42% more graduates this summer than last year while both the manufacturing and service sectors are also positive with growth of 22% forecast.
However, while the number os jobs available is rising, the average starting salary will drop, the IDS warned. Around 60% of employers froze their graduate starting salaries again last year and 65% have not increased their rates for 2014.
The UK economy continues to grow at a strong pace according to the latest CBI growth indicator. The survey of 726 respondents across the manufacturing, retail and service sectors posted its highest reading since data began in 2003 with a balance of +35%, up from +25% in April.
The CBI’s growth indicator suggests the UK economy has continued to perform strongly going into the second quarter of 2014, with the pace predicted to remain firmly above average for the coming quarter as well (a balance of +30 for expected output growth for the next three months).
Growth strengthened in retail sales and business volumes for the business and professional and consumer services sectors in the three months to May, with manufacturing output continuing to grow at the same solid pace as the previous two months.
CBI Deputy Director-General, Katja Hall, said: “The Uk economy is performing strongly and this thanks to rising business and consumer confidence, better credit conditions at home and improving global economic conditions.”
“What’s encouraging is that growth is becoming more broad-based, with solid increases in business investment over the part year. This bodes well for the year ahead.”
A survey for office supplies group Viking found that the price of a happy worker is just £476 a year as long as employers spend it the right way. Small companies can boost their workforce’s morale by investing that amount per staff member in a combination of social events such as trips to the pub and training courses, according to the new research.
More than four out of 10 employees working in businesses with fewer than 50 staff said they were unhappy at work. But managers could raise happiness levels by 35% if they spent £286 on training and £190 on staff outings.
The figure was derived by asking workers what the biggest factors of being happy, or unhappy, were during their working day. These were then put against the three most consistently reported drivers – training, social outings and salary – to discover the ‘price of happiness’.
The data revealed that with targeted spending of just £476, moral could be improved by more than third, while a pay rise of £5,000 yielded only a 3% increase.
The most common causes given as making workers unhappy were stress, not feeling challenged by their roles and poor internal communication about the company’s goals and aims. Another area that could boost levels of employee engagement was utilising unproductive times efficiently. The research found that from 10am until noon on Tuesdays staff were operating at their peak performance, while from 4pm until 6pm on Mondays and Fridays they were at their worst. It suggested using these periods for updates on the bigger picture for the company.
The latest KPMG/REC report on the UK labour market for April shows it continues to be in a very healthy state. Permanent staff placements rose at a strong and accelerated rate, although the rate of expansion remained below February’s recent peak. Temp billings also rose at a robust pace, albeit the lowest since June 2013.
Demand for staff remains strong with a further increase in vacancy levels during April. The rate of growth in demand for staff was broadly unchanged from March’s elevated pace.
However, the availability of candidates to fill positions declined at a faster rate in April For permanent candidates, the latest fall was the sharpest since October 2004, while for temporary workers it was the steepest since December 2000.
This decline in availability has started to fuel growth in permanent salaries which accelerated further in April, the most marked increase since July 2007. Temporary staff pay also increased.