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Monthly Archives: April 2012

500 new employees at Honda

In a rare bit of good news for the jobs market, Honda has taken on 500 new employees at its Swindon plant, taking the number of workers at the factory to 3,500. Production at the plant is expected to almost double to 180,000 cars in 2012 with the introduction of an extra shift.

Welcoming the development, Professor Garel Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research in Cardiff said “you’re going to get the extra workers taking up the workforce to this colossal 3,000 plus, that’s an amazing number in this day and age.

If you are in the fortunate position of being able to take on new employees, ensure that your recruitment processes run smoothly and to the law. This downloadable set of professionally drafted recruitment template documents enable employers to manage the appplication, selection, interview process and procedures involved in employing new staff.

1,400 jobs cut by Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks

The owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks, National Australia Bank (NAB), has announced that it plans to axe 1,400 jobs from its UK operations in light of a “significant downgrade in the growth prospects of the UK economy“. The bank intends to pull out of commercial property lending and concentrate on consumer and small business lending in Scotland and the north of England.

The Unite union criticised the method of the announcement, arguing that it was “disgusting that the company decided to release a statement from Australia in the middle of the night so UK staff across Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks would wake up to hear that their jobs are being cut through the morning news reports“.

If your business is considering redundancies, this set of template redundancy documents can help with the preparations. It includes the policy and letters you will need if some or all of your employees become redundant.

Microsoft invests in e-book venture

Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-book reader has received £185 million investment from Microsoft in exchange for a 17.6% stake in the as-yet unnamed new company. The deal will see the integration of the Nook with the Windows 8 operating system. The move follows litigation in which Microsoft sued Barnes and Noble, alleging the Nook, which presently runs on the Google Android operating system, infringed its patents.

Commenting, William Lynch, chief executive of Barnes & Noble said “Microsoft’s investment in Newco [the temporary name for the new digital and college unit], and our exciting collaboration to bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform and its hundreds of millions of users, will allow us to significantly expand the business“.

If your business is considering issuing, transferring or allotting shares, this set of template documents can help with each of these transactions. Alternatively, if you’re concerned about patent issues, these patent licence agreement template documents may be of use.

Steel firm fined over worker’s injuries

Steel manufacturer Hi Tech Steel Services Ltd has been fined £5,000 following an accident at its factory in which a worker suffered serious injuries to his left hand when it was pulled into machinery. An HSE investigation found that the company had failed to ensure the safety of its employees, and failed to carry out a suitable assessment of the risks to workers.

Commenting, Christina Goddard of the HSE said that it should not have been possible for the victim “to tape up the loose ends of metal strips in the machine while it could still be operated. But this had become standard practice at the company as no assessment had been carried out into how taping up the ends of the steel could be done safely.

Make sure you do all you can to prevent accidents in your workplace. This downloadable set of Standard Health and Safety Audit Forms are recommended for use by any type of business in assessing potential risks.

Mandatory retirement age can be set if justified

The Supreme Court has ruled that employers can continue to set the age at which their staff retire, but only if they can prove there is strong justification for doing so. This ruling comes in spite of legislation which came into force fully in October 2011 which prevents British employers from compulsorily retiring workers purely on the grounds of age.

Leslie Seldon was a partner at law firm Clarkson Wright and Jakes and was effectively forced to retire just after his 65th birthday. He claimed this constituted age discrimination and took his case all the way to the highest court in the land. But the Supreme Court has dismissed his appeal, finding that the firm did have valid reasons for imposing a mandatory retirement age. However, it has remitted the case to an employment tribunal to consider whether forcing partners to leave after their 65th birthday – as opposed to a later date – was appropriate and necessary.

To help make sure that your business is compliant with the rules on retirement, you may like to download this template Retirement Policy.

Lap dancer allowed to claim unfair dismissal

Lap dancer Nadine Quashie worked for Stringfellows, the national chain of lap dancing clubs, until a drug allegation came to light, at which point the club took her off their books. She took an unfair dismissal claim to an employment tribunal, but this was initially rejected on the grounds that she was self-employed.

Ms Quashie lodged an appeal which has resulted in the court implying a contract of employment into her contractual relationship with the club. The Employment Appeal Tribunal has sent her case back to the Employment Tribunal to consider her case for unfair dismissal, as well as a counter-appeal by Stringfellows.

If your business has contractual dealings with self-employed workers, ensure that your agreements are IR35 compliant. You can download this set of template IR35 Self-employed Agreements to help establish the self-employed status of a worker.

Double-dip recession hits UK

In a huge blow to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the UK has officially entered into recession after two consecutive quarters of contraction. The UK economy was last in recession in 2009, so the proximity of the two periods of recession invoke the term “double dip recession” – a metaphorical rollercoaster. It seems that a sharp fall in construction output was behind the contraction which confounded many economists.

Alluding to the news at Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron said “There is no complacency at all in this government in dealing with what is a very tough situation, which frankly has just got tougher.

One of the hallmarks of any recession is a huge amount of debt. If your company is seeking to recover debt, this set of Debt Recovery and Legal Action template documents aim to provide businesses with the tools they need to deal with late payment by customers.

Cookie law could cost business £10 billion

A new cookie law is coming into force on 26th May 2012, in the form of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011. Website owners are now required to gain permission from the users of the website before deploying cookies. Even web analytics software uses cookies, so any websites monitoring traffic will theoretically need to seek opt-in from users under the new law.

According to a “worst case scenario” report by customer data platform QuBit, the implementation of the new cookie law by businesses could cost the UK economy as much as £10 billion. Commenting, Graham Cooke, CEO of QuBit, said “Cookies have become an integral part of the online economy and so anything that discourages their use is going to negatively impact on this market. What many of the analyses to date have ignored is the indirect impact on businesses that rely on cookies for their services to function, rather than just the direct cost of lost sales. Put together the potential cost of this directive is frankly scary.

These EU Cookie Law Guidance Notes, available here for download, address the important privacy requirements imposed on website owners operating websites within the EU and provide practical guidance for compliance.

Western Union plans to buy back stock

The world’s largest payment transfer company, Western Union Co, is considering buying back more stock this year. It bought back stock worth $147 million in the first quarter and is authorized to spend another $470 million on share buybacks in 2012.

Commenting on possible acquisitions of other businesses, CEO Hikmet Ersek said “We may acquire some small businesses (for a few million dollars), but we don’t plan to spend a billion dollars in the near future. My focus now is the integration of the Travelex business“.

A Stock Transfer Form is used to record the transfer of shares from one shareholder to another. If you are considering the transfer of shares, you can download this template Stock Transfer Form, which has been revised to include an additional stamp duty certificate introduced by HMRC in April 2012.

Company fined after employee’s fingers severed

An employee of egg company Bumble Hole Foods Ltd lost part of his index and middle fingers on his right hand when it came into contact with a heavy duty blade while he was cleaning a drain on a production line. The company has been fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,303 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. An HSE investigation into the accident concluded that the risks of cleaning around the blade had not been adequately assessed or controlled.

Commenting on the fact that lessons had not been learned from a similar incident in 2008, HSE inspector Christopher Gregory said “This case shows the importance of learning from mistakes and ensuring that formal advice from the HSE is not ignored. Employers have a duty to act on their findings. If Bumble Hole Foods had taken prompt action after the previous incident, this could so easily have been avoided.

The use of Standard Risk Assessment Forms is an important exercise that not only helps you to make the workplace safer for your staff and eliminate accidents, but also helps you comply with the relevant health and safety legislation. You can download this set of Standard Risk Assessment forms to help you follow a systematic method of looking at work activities and assessing what could go wrong.