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Monthly Archives: September 2012

French unemployment exceeds three million

The unemployment figure in France passed the three million mark in August 2012, a 9% increase on a year earlier and country’s 16th consecutive monthly rise. Some analysts predict that the pattern will only continue, with consumer confidence sliding and France’s central bank forecasting that the economy will contract by 0.1% in the third quarter.

Commenting, Mathieu Plane, economist at the French Economic Observatory, said “There are almost one million more unemployed people compared with early 2008 and we can’t yet say that we have reached the peak.

If your company is facing the prospect of having to make redundancies, ensure that you follow the correct procedures with the help of these professionally written template redundancy documents.

Kafka-esque bank security

There has recently been a debate about the way banks attempt to verify financial transactions using call centres and automated phone systems. The irony of customers being asked for security details by a random caller has not been missed by some commentators as the “Kafka-esque nightmare” that it is.

This article puts it rather succinctly: “The banks, bless them, are only trying to prevent fraud, but this is a pretty silly way of going about it. For starters, there’s the business of calling up people and asking them to give you all the information necessary to prove that they are indeed a bank customer – all the information that a fraudster needs to impersonate that person at the bank, in other words.

All businesses must adhere to the principles laid down by the Data Protection Act 1998, which govern how personal data is collected, held and processed by organisations. This pair of template data protection policies sets out the data protection obligations of businesses and employers and lays down a number of organisational and procedural measures to ensure compliance with the Act.

Greece sells lottery

The Greek government is being forced to sell its 34% stake in Opap, the country’s national lottery. The move is the result of international pressure by Greece’s creditors and conditions of the bailout which require more privatisation of state assets.

Commenting, Opap chief executive Yiannis Emiris said “The complete privatisation of Opap will be carried out transparently, rapidly, and with efficiency“.

If you are responsible for the management of shares in your company, this downloadable set of Share Capital and Profits template documents can be used for a range of purposes, from issuing shares to reducing share capital.

New unfair dismissal consultation

A government consultation has been launched, putting forward plans to cut the cap on compensation payouts (£72,300 as of writing) to a maximum of 12 months’ salary. An idea of “settlement agreements” has also been proposed, although how this would differ from “compromise agreements” seems unclear at this point.

Commenting on the plans, Business Secretary Vince Cable said “we acknowledge that more can be done to help small companies by reducing the burden of employment tribunals, which we are reforming, and moving to less confrontational dispute resolutions through settlement agreements.

In the meantime, this set of downloadable template employment termination letters may be of assistance in ensuring a smooth exit process. A letter with a compromise agreement is also available.

Ford to cut European jobs

Ford, which employs 15,000 workers in the UK, has warned that poor economic performance will cost hundreds of jobs across Europe. The car giant says it does not yet have a total figure, but claims it will offer voluntary buyouts for staff and cut jobs for “agency workers and purchased service”.

Commenting on the cost cutting programme, the company said “Ford of Europe expects the programmes to result in the reduction of several hundred salaried positions, but exact figures won’t be known for a few months.

If your company is facing the prospect of having to make redundancies, ensure that you follow the correct procedures with the help of these professionally written template redundancy documents.

Company fined over chemical burns accident

Tyneside firm DMI (UK) Ltd has been fined a total of £12,000 following an accident in which employee Michael Reid was soaked with a concentrated, corrosive chemical, resulting in serious burns. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in that it failed to provide a safe system of work.

Commenting, HSE Inspector Shuna Rank, said “Companies have a duty to ensure that hazards at work are managed so that they do not put employees and others at risk. This case illustrates what can go wrong and as a result of DMI (UK) Ltd’s failings a long-serving employee suffered serious chemical burns.

This set of template risk assessment forms can help you follow a systematic method of looking at work activities, assessing what could go wrong and deciding what controls you need to implement in order to prevent loss, damage or injury.

Administration looms for JJB Sport

Sports retailer JJB Sports is facing a widely anticipated pre-pack administration, with the fate of its 180 stores and 4,000 employees hanging in the balance. In the meantime, all of its outlets are remaining open for business, but trading of its shares has been suspended.

The news comes as no surprise, as the company announced at the end of August that it was seeking a buyer to rescue the firm. Its shares, which were trading at almost £25 each back in 2007, are now worth less than a penny each.

This set of forms for Statutory Demands, Winding-up Petitions and Bankruptcy can help if your business is facing the prospect of insolvency.

Mass brawl at Foxconn

Foxconn Technology, which manufactures devices for some of the most prominent technology companies, including Apple, is often criticised for poor working conditions in its Chinese factories. A recent incident, apparently involving a security officer and a worker, sparked off a huge fight which escalated into a mass brawl involving about 2,000 workers.

It seems the incident began in a dormitory near the Taiyuan manufacturing facility in Shanxi province, where 79,000 workers are based. 5,000 police were drafted in to quell the riot. Foxconn claimed the dispute was not work related.

A grievance procedure can help ensure that any problems in your workplace are nipped in the bud. This downloadable template Grievance Procedure enables employers to make sure that any problems, complaints or concerns that employees may have are dealt with fairly, consistently and in a timely fashion.

Child tablet dispute

Litigation between smartphone and tablet manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung, accusing eachother of breaching patents or copying designs, has become an everyday occurrence. However, this technology war has now spread to the area of toy tablets designed for children.

Fuhu, the manufacturers of the Nabi tablet, which comes pre-installed with popular games including Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja as well as an educational maths-learning program and a painting app, claims that Toys R Us has copied the design, user-experience and online services of its device to create their own kids tablet computer, called Tabeo.

Designs form an important part of the intellectual property portfolios of many businesses, particularly those engaged in inventive or creative pursuits. This downloadable template Registered Design Assignment agreement provides for the transfer of registered design ownership.

Met officer sacked for gross misconduct

PC Simon Harwood, who was previously cleared of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson following an altercation in the G20 London protests of 2009, has been sacked from the Metropolitan Police Service with immediate effect after a disciplinary hearing found he had committed gross misconduct. Mr Harwood struck and pushed Mr Tomlinson as he walked away from riot officers on the fringe of the G20 protests, an act of force which led to his death.

Announcing the verdict, Commander Julian Bennett, who chaired the panel, said “PC Harwood’s use of force in this case cannot be justified. His actions have discredited the police service and undermined public confidence in it … PC Harwood has accepted that it would be impossible for him to ever again serve as a police officer, whether within the MPS or any other police force – we agree, as we consider it inconceivable that he could ever perform a role in the police service again.

If you are responsible for dealing with misconduct by employees, you can download a variety of relevant template misconduct and gross misconduct documents such as letters and notices, pertaining to the alleged misconduct or the related hearings.