UKs ‘back to work’ plan puts business and unions at odds

Trade unions and business leaders were at loggerheads on Monday night over Boris Johnson’s “back to work” strategy, following claims that employees’ lives could be put at risk as the British prime minister tries to restart the economy. Read more: UKs ‘back to work’ plan puts business and unions at odds

UKs ‘back to work’ plan puts business and unions at odds

Trade unions and business leaders were at loggerheads on Monday night over Boris Johnson’s “back to work” strategy, following claims that employees’ lives could be put at risk as the British prime minister tries to restart the economy.

Labour leader Keir Starmer joined unions in demanding that businesses should be required to publish coronavirus risk assessments, with tough enforcement against reckless employers.

But business leaders say that publishing workplace risk assessments would be overly bureaucratic for small companies that already adhere to high standards of health and safety regulation.

They also want Alok Sharma, business secretary, to set out a clear legal framework for the reopening of workplaces, in an effort to allay fears of massive lawsuits if a staff member were to fall ill or die from coronavirus.

The tension came as Mr Sharma finalised seven documents intended to show how Britons could safely return to work, and Mr Johnson prepared to publish a “road map” charting a gradual route out of the lockdown.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the unions could not support Mr Sharma’s draft plan, claiming that “safe working will not be guaranteed”.

“We want new binding rules for employers to publish their risk assessment and action plan,” she said. “We want clear guidance to set out the minimum standards that employers must meet in order to protect public safety. And we want ministers to outline a new tough approach to enforcement.”

Every company with more than five members of staff has to draw up a risk assessment but under Mr Sharma’s draft plans they will also need to provide a document looking specifically at how to maintain safe working during the pandemic.

Sir Keir joined Ms O’Grady in insisting that the risk assessments be put into the public domain. But one senior business leader said: “The TUC seem to be coming to this from the angle that businesses will put employees in harm’s way. I don’t think that’s fair. It will be time-consuming and small companies are not set up to do this stuff. It will be back-breaking for some of them.”

What happens if someone contracts coronavirus and gets seriously ill or dies? Are you, as an employer, liable?

Business is also pressing Mr Sharma to set out a clear legal framework to ensure that employers that follow guidelines and do their best to protect staff are not sued if they reopen their workplaces.

Adam Marshall, head of the British Chambers of Commerce, said virtually all companies would do everything possible to follow the rules and keep staff safe, but they were anxious of the legal risk.

“What happens if someone contracts coronavirus and gets seriously ill or dies?” he asked. “Are you, as an employer, liable?” Lawyers said the less explicit the government guidance was, the greater the risk for employers of being sued.

James Davies, a founder partner of Lewis Silkin’s employment practice, said: “An employer is liable for injury [or illness] caused to an employee in the course of employment if it is in breach of its duty of care to that employee, so has acted negligently or is in breach of health and safety duties.”

But he said this was not a “strict liability” and that if an employer followed the guidance, conducted a health and safety assessment, and possibly spoke to a health and safety specialist, they were unlikely to be successfully sued.

Mr Sharma is expected in the coming days to give guidance on the wearing of personal protective equipment in the workplace — missing from initial draft documents — in a way that did not have an impact on the NHS’s requirement for clinical-level equipment.

The workplace guidance — part of an overall strategy for a slow exit from the lockdown — will see hot-desking curtailed, staff canteens largely closed, lifts kept half-empty, and floor tape keeping workers apart.

Retailers that reopen will be expected to employ “social-distancing champions” who will advise customers on how to behave.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Monday that more than 6m UK workers — more than a fifth of the workforce — are having part of their wages paid by the state through the job retention scheme.

By midnight on May 3, 800,000 employers had applied to use the scheme, which allows companies to put staff on furlough with the government covering 80 per cent of their regular pay

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UKs ‘back to work’ plan puts business and unions at odds

Source : Business Matters More   

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FDM Group hires nearly 200 new IT trainees during Covid-19 lockdown

FTSE 250 IT training specialist continues hiring top candidates despite economic uncertainty and pledges to increase employment opportunities for people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds Read more: FDM Group hires nearly 200 new IT trainees during Covid-19 lockdown

FDM Group hires nearly 200 new IT trainees during Covid-19 lockdown

FTSE 250 IT training specialist continues hiring top candidates despite economic uncertainty and pledges to increase employment opportunities for people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds

FDM Group, a global leader in the recruit, train, deploy sector, today announces that it has hired 182 new employees during the official Covid-19 lockdown. The company, which specialises in equipping candidates with the latest digital skills in areas such as software development, data science and cyber security, has implemented new online programmes so that training can continue despite the chaos caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The company, which has multiple offices globally, traditionally delivers its training courses within classroom-based environments inside its physical offices. However, the Covid-19 outbreak saw FDM successfully move its nearly 6,000-strong employees to a remote working environment overnight, with full IT operations in place within just four days. As part of this new online programme, around 90 training classes involving 500 trainees take place every day.

Overall, since the start of the new working model the company has seen its use of Microsoft Skype increase by 700 per cent, including 6,000 discussions every day. Microsoft Teams usage has risen 4,000 per cent with over 10,000 conversation messages and 400 meetings per day.

Jonathan Young, CIO, FDM Group comments: “We’re very proud to have shifted a large global workforce of nearly 6,000 staff into an effective, productive and enjoyable remote working environment in a four-day timeframe. Of course none of this would be possible were it not for the efforts of our entire workforce, who have been quick to embrace this new way of working and carry on with a ‘business as usual’ approach despite the disruption and huge challenges facing everyone.”

Rod Flavell, CEO, FDM Group comments: “At its core FDM will always be a people business, relentlessly equipping, training and supporting our people to reach their full potential in their careers, and being there for them in tough times. Yes, the disruption and economic uncertainty has affected us, but that won’t stop us offering fantastic career opportunities to a new generation of incoming IT talent. We’re very proud to continue hiring during this difficult time and look forward to welcoming new candidates into our diverse team.”

Main photo: Library shot from Depositphotos

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FDM Group hires nearly 200 new IT trainees during Covid-19 lockdown

Source : Business Matters More   

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