Letters

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article LettersOn 8 Jun 2004 in Personnel Today This week’s lettersDoes ‘sick pay’ encourage staff to take time off work?In our experience, paying sick paydoes not encourage sickness (News, 25 May). In recent years, we have surveyed 15,000 staff across manysectors, and asked: ‘Have you ever used sick leave to deal with an issueoutside of work?’ Approximately 87 per cent said ‘yes’. But then we asked whathelp could an employer provide to prevent this? The answer in 97 per cent ofcases was ‘more flexible working’. We asked: ‘Have you ever considered leavingyour employer?’, and 96 per cent said ‘yes’ – and that they would stay if theyhad more flexibility.Sick pay doesn’t increase sickness. It just allows it to happenin an environment where staff are not empowered or able to have the flexibilitythey require to do a good job and deal with life issues too. The root cause of the rise in sickness absence has more to dowith poor cultures and poor people management. One organisation we worked withintroduced three (paid) days a year for all employees to use for emergencies.After one year, sickness absence had reduced by 85 per cent, and attrition from18 per cent to just under 4 per cent. Three years on, it has introduced more emergency days andreduced absence even further. This is an organisation that knows people come towork to do a good job, and if the right environment is in place, people willnot take advantage of it.Not paying for sick leave is a short-term time bomb that willincrease attrition and stress, and reduce trust. What a backward step and ashort-term stupidity. When people are genuinely ill, they will come in to work,spread their germs and infect a wider workforce. If they are not ill but takingtime off for family or an emergency, then the organisation is merely adding tothe stress. Ninety-seven per cent of staff go to work to do a good job.They don’t wake up in the morning with the deliberate thought of screwingthings up for their employer. But do organisations manage for them, or theremaining percentage? Their performance management should be improved, ratherthan punishing the majority.You can probably tell that I am incensed by this action, but Isee the other side of the coin, and just how much you can increase productivityby letting people work to their full potential. I suggest that leaders aremeasured on sick days, and for every day lost, they should personally pay. Theyshould have targets to improve culture, thereby reducing absence. That would bemuch better than penalising the employees who have to work in their poorcultures.Lynne CoppManaging director, The Worklife CompanyBanning sick pay is not the only solution Plans to withhold sick pay for the first three days of absence (News, 25May) have been applauded by industry, yet received cautiously by experts. It’scertainly one way of stamping out unauthorised absence, but by no means theonly way. Take a closer look at unauthorised absence, and you will find that ittypically falls into two categories: planned, and unplanned. How many employeesare already arranging a sudden migraine attack to coincide with the England vSwitzerland match on 17 June, or a dodgy appendix for the post-match hangover? Employers in many sectors, particularly where staff work shifts, areadopting a more flexible approach to staff scheduling, whereby employees areable to plan their absence by stating a preference to not work on certain daysor shifts, or organise their absence as part of a flexitime system. A 21st century scheduling system can adequately cope with such flexibility.Employers are benefiting from a reduction in absence levels with feweremployees feeling the need to throw a ‘sickie’, and employees are enjoying theflexibility of a system that allows them to plan time off without eating intoannual leave entitlement. Keith Statham Managing director, Kronos Systems Real accountability is the way forward In my wanderings this week, I happened upon a copy of The Asian Wall StreetJournal and found an article that I believe may be the beginnings of a newtrend – ‘real’ accountability for HR people. A certain Frank Z Ashen, formerly HR director of the New York Stock Exchange(NYSE), was reported (26 May 2004) to have turned the US equivalent of ‘Queen’sEvidence’ in the case against the former chairman of the NYSE, Dick Grasso. Ashen acknowledged that he might have provided “inaccurate, incompleteand misleading” information about his boss’s pay to the exchangescompensation committee. He has also agreed to return £1.3m of his salary asrestitution. Wow. Now there’s accountability. Can we expect to see this develop fully throughout industry and commerce?Will we read of HR directors being sacked alongside the sales director becausethey failed to deliver the development of the sales team to reach the companytargets? Will we see the resignation of the personnel manager because thesenior recruitment exercise they oversaw recruited a crook for the financedirector position? Will we see restitution out of the HR director’s salary because the employeeattitude survey suggested the company wasn’t anywhere near the published visionin terms of the way they were being managed? I could go on and on (in fact, I might patent a board game or a reality TVshow). But perhaps this is what the function needs to give it an edge in itsefforts to gain that board seat. Les Simpson Operations director, JMPS PC lunatics infiltrate Hertfordshire police I always knew there was a risk of ‘PC’ lunatics taking over the asylum, butnever in my worst nightmares did I think they would target the police. Hertfordshire Police’s diversity training (Features, 1 June) epitomiseseverything that’s wrong with HR today. An ill-defined (possibly non-existent)problem, which is then misdiagnosed, with no business focus or observable lineof sight to any benefits, followed by a ridiculous attempt to change years ofin-built attitudes through a one-day programme. Surely diversity is only important to the police if a lack of it hasresulted in less effective policing? Will the good citizens of Hertfordshirewalk their streets more safely in the knowledge that someone in their localforce felt inclined to write poetry as a result of their diversity trainingday? This is not HR. Paul Kearns Director, PWL Unhealthy staff must be rewarded at work I believe that if people are fit and well, this is reward in itself, andthat it would be a retrograde step to put policies in place that may lead tofinancial hardship for some people, while forcing them to go to work when theyare unwell. I am a registered nurse, and I know that, regrettably, some people are moreprone to illness than others. They sometimes have to cope with some loss ofself-image and self-esteem caused by their illness, and they cope admirably.Perhaps when they manage to organise their lives around their illness and stillmanage to go to work for most of the time, they should be rewarded. Going towork is no problem when your health is good. However, if a change in policy is intended to deal with those that may betaking time off for spurious reasons, it seems an awful shame to treat thegenuinely ill in the same way. Questions should be asked as to why people don’twant to be at work. I believe that if the culture of the organisation fits with the values ofthe individual, and if an appropriate and fair attendance management policy isin place, then only those who are genuinely ill will feel the need to take timeoff work. I get paid when I am off sick, and I often come to work when I don’t feeltoo good because I feel ‘guilty’. I know that there must be lots of others who feelas I do. Is there a danger that if people don’t get paid for the first three days ofabsence that there may be a rebound and more people may take time off? Theissue raises a lot of questions, not least that of trust, and I prefer tobelieve that the vast majority of people can be trusted to use their judgementas to whether or not they are fit for work. For those who genuinely don’t want to be at work, little difference can bemade either way. I actually enjoy coming to work, and that’s because as employees, we arewell cared for and feel valued by our employer. Kate Haynes Total quality and consumer relations manager, Beiersdorf UK NHS director proves theory of ‘affiliation’ With reference to the letter about promotions through affiliation being rifein HR (Letters, 25 May), it does seem that the higher a position you have in HRthe less need there is for you to have an HR qualification. By coincidence, you featured the HR director for the NHS in your ‘Ear to theground’ section in Guru in the same edition. The NHS is the largest employer in the UK, and its HR director doesn’tappear to hold a CIPD or HR qualification – or any operational HR experience,for that matter. So how important is it to be professionally qualified? I believe it is essential, and I value my chartered membership (byqualification) of the CIPD. But clearly not every organisation holds that view,and that can be frustrating for mid-career professionals, and demoralising forHR practitioners early in their careers. Details supplied last_img

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