The Federation of International Employers – FedEE http://www.fedee.com The organisation for major global employers. Providing information, advice and support to international human resource departments Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:00:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Comment: Fishing with click bait http://www.fedee.com/comment-fishing-click-bait/ Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:41:11 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18837 There is an interesting contrast between the methods used in the two ‘cousin’ fields of public relations (PR) and employee relations (ER). Whilst PR has become increasingly sophisticated in its use of technology, ER remains largely back in the nineties

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There is an interesting contrast between the methods used in the two ‘cousin’ fields of public relations (PR) and employee relations (ER). Whilst PR has become increasingly sophisticated in its use of technology, ER remains largely back in the nineties using emails and offering ‘helpful facilities’ on the intranet

There has been no greater advance in PR’s use of digital technology than in politics. Obama’s second election heralded a new era. It was then that the social media began to be utilized in a radically new way to get through to the electorate. With the aid of access to Facebook’s 2bn users Trump’s presidential campaign took this a stage further to exploit the repository of deep insights that can be used by those trying to influence social as well as economic behavior. When Facebook data is combined with purchasing choices gained by Amazon, searches on Youtube and social survey data it can not only allow Facebook to pinpoint messages that will be well received by its individual members, attract them to look at the messages through “click bait” – but then also predict outcomes from PR/political campaigns.

The turning point for Facebook came when it began to realize that the world was divided into what came to be called “Type 1” and “Type 2” people. Although its own internal technically sophisticated world (Type 2) was dominated by ‘logic’, ‘analysis’ and ‘probability’ around 85% of the population (Type 1) largely operate through gut feel, hunches, guesswork, prejudices and instinctive “just knowing”. The Type 1 population is also highly vulnerable to positive vs negative messages and emotional behaviours. People are generally stirred by powerful and energetic eloquence and take it as evidence of deeply held views, rather than often the insincere, contrived performance it often is. They are also taken in by false news – as long as it seems to be part of a contagion, replicated by several sources they know or respect – even if it has been orchestrated to appear so.

We may, as HR professionals, flinch at such a dichotomy – but it has proven to exist. That said, can we learn from such a finding when dealing with employees?

The usual value of social media for many HR professionals is to network with other business people via Linkedin, to search for potential candidates or to search for job applicant’s Facebook pages to see if they “check-out”. But what about using the social media to know more about employees and job applicants? During the Trump election Oxford Analytica was enlisted to work for the campaign as part of what was called Peject Alimo. They found a way to use available data to predict many aspects of a voter’s personality, values and background. Systems would use data such as Facebook “Likes”, music preferences, expressions used, syntax and even spelling errors to predict Facebook personas – right down to a person’s religion and what subject they studied at University.

Data matching of this kind is almost certainly unlawful under data protection legislation in Europe, but the question remains does data concerning, for instance, a person’s politics, religion or sexual orientation actually constitute “sensitive data” if it is not directly derived, but only predicted from other behaviours? Moreover, if the processing is conducted where it is lawful and users just ring in for information then no data protection infringement will have surely taken place?

Another huge advance made by analysts during the Trump campaign was in “sociometrics” – the evolution of groups and positions of individuals within them. Such an understanding is essential for the corporate world. To date it has only been possible to achieve reciprocated and unreciprocated bonding data by giving members of a group individual personality tests, or asking them to rate others in their group on a number of criteria. Many people object to such a rating exercise and personality tests can produce misleading results when it comes to converging their outcomes as it measures crude dispositions to bond in certain ways, not even the probability that bonds exist.

However, the kind of covert sociometrics that can be obtained from – say – Facebook browsing data and the interaction of Facebook friends can be remarkably accurate. For instance, the proportion of work colleagues that are in a person’s network and frequency of interaction with them can reveal a great deal – even if the actual contents of their communications is not known. Their likes and dislikes can also say a great deal about “value bonds”.

It is a matter of individual choice how far such insights are – or should be – sought and how they are used. Many people will reject them outright, others will fear their legality, but those who successfully exploit this brave new world of psychological possibilities will find themselves able to influence employee attitudes and behaviors in a way that is frighteningly effective.

 

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EU: That priority hire http://www.fedee.com/eu-priority-hire/ Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:38:34 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18835 A major concern for anyone trading across borders in the European Union must be the holding of trusted trader status (AEO) relating to customs simplification, security and safety. Although this offers great advantages to those operating in supply chains, many

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A major concern for anyone trading across borders in the European Union must be the holding of trusted trader status (AEO) relating to customs simplification, security and safety. Although this offers great advantages to those operating in supply chains, many companies still do not hold this credential.

At the heart of the AEO is the possession of professional competence. This is generally ensured through training in the use of the new central customs code (CAC). In fact, companies with existing AEO status must comply with the CAC by May 2019. Without the necessary professional qualifications and in-house knowledge of CAC companies will not achieve AEO. Companies also need to register and obtain an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number in order to trade outside the EU and before they apply for AEO.

The lead time for obtaining AEO is around 12 months – so British companies, in particular, without the necessary in-house skills should hire them soon and get their applications in before the Brexit doomsday.

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Australia : : Fair Work Amendment http://www.fedee.com/australia-fair-work-act-now-force/ Fri, 08 Sep 2017 14:13:59 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18719 Employers, particularly franchise chains, who deliberately flaunt the minimum wage and other entitlements’ rules under the Fair Work Act 2009, now face stiff new penalties. This follows the passing of the Fair Work Amendment Bill on September 5th

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Employers, particularly franchise chains, who deliberately flaunt the minimum wage and other entitlements’ rules under the Fair Work Act 2009, now face stiff new penalties. This follows the passing of the Fair Work Amendment Bill on September 5th to protect vulnerable workers. Under the Act, the penalties for poor record-keeping have doubled and breaches of pay slips to AUD$ 126,000 (US$ 100,500) per contravention for individuals and AUD$63,000 (US$ 502,500) for companies. In cases where employers issue false or misleading payslips, the penalties have tripled. However in cases where there are serious contraventions employers could face up to ten times the current maximum penalties.

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COMMENT: Are you ISO compliant? http://www.fedee.com/comment-iso-compliant/ Tue, 05 Sep 2017 05:33:46 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18671 It is now 12 months since the International Organisation for Standardisation published its standards for human resource management (ISO 30408) and recruitment (ISO 30405). They were certainly a long time coming and now they are here it would be interesting

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It is now 12 months since the International Organisation for Standardisation published its standards for human resource management (ISO 30408) and recruitment (ISO 30405). They were certainly a long time coming and now they are here it would be interesting to know what kind of impact they have made on HR departments, particularly in multinational enterprises.

In many companies what the authors call “human governance” is perhaps already undertaken within the sort of framework proposed by the standards – although reading the standards out of context is a pretty self-evident, dry and tedious experience. But then it should be remembered that what are being described are “standards” and, as such, must be applicable to a wide variety of organisations. In fact the very need for an HR function is in part because people are not generally very well handled by line managers and the job of HR is to establish and impose good benchmarks for the company to follow.

The new standards could then be a useful point of authority for HR to enlist when meeting its accountabilities. Many other departments will also be familiar with ISO standards covering their fields of operation. These standards are also not alone, as a raft of other HR-related standards have been published or are in the pipeline. Those already published cover assessment service delivery (10667), HR vocabulary (30400), and sustainable employability management for organizations (30406), cost-per-hire (30407) and workforce planning (30409). Others yet to appear include an “impact of hire metric” (30410), quality of hire (30411), retention (30412), a turnover metric (30413), Human capital reporting for internal and external stakeholders (30414), diversity and inclusion (30415), workforce management (30416) and many more.

Given the sheer volume of ISO standards that are scheduled in the next few years it is important to establish an internal review mechanism so that your company can stay ahead of the game. It should also not be overlooked that FedEE itself also provides two comprehensive codes of practice for multinational companies – covering a suggest global framework for employee terms and conditions and also compliance with the forthcoming GDPR in Europe.

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Comment: Why strikes decline http://www.fedee.com/comment-strikes-decline/ Fri, 01 Sep 2017 10:21:37 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18617 There was a period, back in the 1970s, when ongoing strikes seldom fell below 300 a month. I was working at the time as a journalist for the UK’s leading IR journal. It was my habit to take quotes from

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There was a period, back in the 1970s, when ongoing strikes seldom fell below 300 a month. I was working at the time as a journalist for the UK’s leading IR journal. It was my habit to take quotes from Shakespeare as news headlines and one day I chose “Winter of Discontent”. Then Prime Minister Callaghan’s speechwriter took it up and I had my one minute of fame.

But the time when Britain was notorious for its levels of industrial unrest is now a distant memory. The number of ongoing stoppages due to industrial disputes in June 2017 was just 11. The last time it reached 30 per month was in July 2006, or climbed above one hundred a month was in February 1988.

Contrary to popular myth, widescale industrial disputes in the UK were not confined to the immediate pre-Thatcher years of the 1970s and had been a feature of labour relations back to the 1920’s general strike and beyond. In fact, strike statistics paint a very different picture of British history as it faced major crises. For instance, in the month leading up to Prime Minister Churchill’s “on the beaches” speech when the country was at its military low point during the Second World War, there were 105 work stoppages in progress. During the D Day landings in France there were 127 stoppages in progress and during the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis – when the world lay on the brink of a nuclear war – the number of UK stoppages was 264.

Major political, fiscal or military events seem to have only a vague connection to the course of labour relations. The national interest has no relevance whatsoever to the pursuit of collective self-interest by trade unions. A corporate financial crisis may actually be the trigger for strike action – ironically further weakening a company that is struggling to survive. Alternatively, a company faced with inflated wage rates they have perhaps been forced to inherit can also use the age-old device of inciting a strike to reduce bulging payrolls. This could be especially the case in the transport sector – commuters having no alternative but to struggle on – whilst unions, and not management, will conveniently take the blame for curtailed transport services.

The decline of strike activity in the private sector over the last 30 years clearly originates from Margaret Thatcher’s workplace legislation of the 1980s, which outlawed secondary action and required majority votes to support strike action. But the academic literature has since abounded in conflicting theories about why disputes have remained at such a low ebb for so long. One theory concerns low worker morale, another that a layer of shop stewards had become bureaucratised since the 1980s and divorced from workers’ day-to-day experiences. Yet another theory is that the pursuit of wage demands has always been associated with collective bargaining, thus a decline in bargaining will inevitably reduce the use of such pressure tactics

But there are also many other social undercurrents in operation too. There is, for instance, an increasing emphasis upon individualism throughout modern British society. Moreover, trade unions have themselves responded to this trend by focusing on legal advisory services for individual members pursuing their particular problems

However, what we are experiencing amounts to no more than a parody of peace. If we tap into the mindset of union activists, we will see that the fundamental causes of strike action have never gone away. As they see it, the strength of “will” amongst workers has been discouraged and constrained by more precarious job contracts, the uncertainty of new contracted-out roles, and – probably most of all – mounting credit card balances and mortgage commitments. There are also now more ways to vent dissatisfaction through HR open-door policies, works councils, and grievance procedures. Militant unions will always be around to put ideology before ideas, but in recent times the broad population has been progressively forced by immediate, pressing circumstance to adopt a path that is ever more pragmatic, cautious, and stoical.

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France: Macron Labour Reforms http://www.fedee.com/france-macron-labour-reforms/ Fri, 01 Sep 2017 10:14:30 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18612 The French government has announced the outcome of its recent talks on labour reforms. The agreed changes include:

* A new facility for employers and workers to reach agreement at a company level. Negotiations with a non-elected employee (not approved

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The French government has announced the outcome of its recent talks on labour reforms. The agreed changes include:

* A new facility for employers and workers to reach agreement at a company level. Negotiations with a non-elected employee (not approved by a trade union) will be possible in companies with less than 20 employees. Moreover, in companies with 20 to 50 employees, negotiations may involve an elected staff member – not necessarily someone nominated by a trade union.

* Freedom for CDD fixed-term contract rules to be set at a company level.

* An end to judicial review of redundancy decisions if company worldwide operations are profitable – only French profitability will be relevant.

* A new cap on compensation for unfair dismissal – three months’ salary for employees with more than two years employment and up to 20 months for those with 30 years of employment. However, the severance compensation for normal dismissal will increase.

* A new structure for employee participation in companies with 50+ employees.

The changes will be implemented by executive order via five decrees – thus avoiding lengthy parliamentary debate – and are likely to be introduced by the end of September 2017. The CGT is the only major trade union to announce strike action and public protests against the reforms – with demonstrations around the country on September 12th.

Will the reforms make France significantly more attractive a location for international employers? Probably not. Although heralded as fundamental, the reforms do nothing to overcome the problem of industry-wide applicability of collective agreements for larger employers or introduce anything close to a hire and fire at will regime. They do not address the 35-hour week or the burden of numerous social security payment obligations.

 

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Russia: “Safe” data transfers http://www.fedee.com/russian-federation-safe-data-transfers/ Sun, 20 Aug 2017 09:03:05 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18495 It is curious that Russia, one of the states most ready to invade personal privacy, also regulates the transfer of privacy to other countries providing a “sufficient level” of protection for personnel data. That is perhaps why two of the

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It is curious that Russia, one of the states most ready to invade personal privacy, also regulates the transfer of privacy to other countries providing a “sufficient level” of protection for personnel data. That is perhaps why two of the latest additions to Russian privacy regulator’s approved list seem so incongruous (with number of outstanding UN human rights concerns in parenthesis) – Costa Rica (227) and Kazakhstan (314). However, Russia (346) has itself only a marginally more awful human rights record than countries the European Union (EU) considers safe – such as France (307) and Hungary (306). It is also only slightly better than the USA (315). However, the EU country with the highest negative human rights rating in Europe from UN reports is not Russia, but Sweden (362).

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Comment: Disturbing trend lines http://www.fedee.com/comment-disturbing-trend-lines/ Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:59:24 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18493 A phenomenon little known outside the realms of psychologists is the “Flynn effect”. This concerns the constant increase in IQ test scores over time. The average rate observed is about 3 points per decade. This does not sound much, but

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A phenomenon little known outside the realms of psychologists is the “Flynn effect”. This concerns the constant increase in IQ test scores over time. The average rate observed is about 3 points per decade. This does not sound much, but it means that someone with average intelligence and therefore scoring 100 on such tests today would register as being 26% more intelligent than someone scoring 100 in 1930. This trend seems to have taken place on a global scale and at all levels of test score, so even the most intelligent are becoming smarter than in previous times.

However, with this rise in intelligence have come three other significant overall changes – a declining interest in geographical, historical and philosophical knowledge; a sharp reduction in attention spans; and a growth in egotism.

Back in 1999, the US educational standards body ACTA surveyed seniors at the nation’s 55 most prestigious colleges and universities to see if they could answer basic questions about US history from the school-level national curriculum. 81% of the seniors failed miserably. Then in 2012 they repeated the exercise, this time with graduates. The results were even more appalling. There is also ample evidence from a sharp fall in students taking majors in both history and geography. A favourite question of mine when interviewing Greek job candidates is to ask them to tell me about the Peloponnesian wars. Despite being not only the most significant series of events of ancient times, the consequence of this conflict changed the course of subsequent history and set back the course of advancing civilisation. Yet by far the majority of Greeks interviewed knew little or nothing about these events that took place in their own country. The philosopher Edmund Burke once pointed out that “those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it” and in business those who care little for the lessons of the past are hardly fit to command its future.

More disturbing still is the falling duration of attention spans. TV advertisers have known for years that the old standard 1-minute advert was losing its impact. Gradually the point at which people stop engaging with an ad has fallen so that today 50% of people have disengaged by 30 seconds into the video – no matter what clever devices are used to retain attention. The same goes for Internet browsing – with only 17% of people, on average, now staying on a website for longer than 4 seconds. In fact, even if they stay on a page, on average only 28% of words on it are read.

The principal conditioning force – as we all know – is social media. It is so familiar now to see couples in restaurants and cafes each locked into separate worlds as they flick their way through Facebook or WeChat. But what they view is also part of the creeping malaise. Millions of people each day track their every move, their every meal, shopping trip and human interaction with photos and twitter-like descriptions. But what they portray is largely window dressing. Photoshopped images, false claims and portrayals to make their dull lives impress others amongst their thousands of online “friends”. The selfie is now the norm and the ego on a roll. But where are these trends collectively taking us?

At the heart of the matter is the fact that although intelligence is rising and is (in statistical terms) “normally distributed”, there is much evidence to suggest that morality has always been bimodally distributed – i.e., half of the population in all countries are basically honest and half are basically dishonest. In what way, therefore, will a lack of geo-historical knowledge, falling attention spans and increased preoccupation with the self impact on this matrix of rising intelligence divided according to the perennial dichotomy of morality?

Curiously, present trends may be acting as a pre-conditioning process materialising via the big drop in employment that has already hit many young people in the West. But will not the progressive rise in intelligence eventually win out and populations react suddenly and sharply to their falling life chances? In many ways this is happening already, especially to those who are deprived of a university education. It is therefore maybe just a chance outcome – like the flip of a coin – which side of the moral divide will finally take a dominant position after the social change that inevitably lies ahead.

Past visionaries have often been surprisingly accurate in their predictions. So much of Oswald Spengler’s fears in his famous 1919 book “Decline of the West” have proven to be true. Perhaps, as he foresaw, we are witnessing the last death pangs of western civilisation? He estimated that by the year 2000, modern democracy would be passed its zenith and that authoritarianism would then take hold and last for two millennia. Certainly democracy (if it ever truly existed) has had its day.

The Achilles heel – and great threat to despotic rule – is technological change. This both extends the range for social control, but also potentially undermines it. Business must ride like “piggy in the middle” of these conflicting trends, hoping that it will be able to mould itself to whatever shape of circumstances arise. My guess is that the mounting intelligence of coming generations will eventually allow them to break the chains being wound around them by political and economic forces and lead to a fundamental change that we can neither foresee nor readily adapt to with the present personnel skill base that we have.

 

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UK: Voluntary overtime and holiday pay http://www.fedee.com/uk-voluntary-overtime-holiday-pay/ Fri, 04 Aug 2017 15:12:10 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18090 The UK Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that regular voluntary overtime should be included when calculating holiday pay. What constitutes “regular” will be a matter of judgment or agreement, but the ruling also has implications for other regular payments

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The UK Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that regular voluntary overtime should be included when calculating holiday pay. What constitutes “regular” will be a matter of judgment or agreement, but the ruling also has implications for other regular payments such as on-call, standby and special working conditions allowances. This is because the EAT took as its measure the necessity of employees receiving their “normal pay” during holiday periods. It also endorsed the current averaging period of 12 weeks to determine pay normality [ Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council v Willetts and Others].

 

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FedEE Customised legal service http://www.fedee.com/fedee-customised-legal-service/ Fri, 04 Aug 2017 11:25:03 +0000 http://www.fedee.com/?p=18086 We have just launched FedEE Law?  This provides members with customised legal services – such as the drafting of employment contracts, the drawing up company policies or reviewing and updating of employee handbooks. The new service offers a fast turnaround,

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We have just launched FedEE Law?  This provides members with customised legal services – such as the drafting of employment contracts, the drawing up company policies or reviewing and updating of employee handbooks. The new service offers a fast turnaround, covers up to 90 countries worldwide and represents great value for money compared with commercial law firms.

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