Working time rules hinder race to meet deadlines

first_img The rapidly growing UK motorsport industry could have the brakes put on it by EU legislation limiting the working hours of its workforce, according to a Government-backed study.Research undertaken jointly by Birmingham and Newcastle universities and Henley and Cranfield management colleges, highlighted the EU Working Time directive as a potential problem for the industry.The interim findings of the study, which was backed by the DTI, were revealed at Auto-sport International, the UK motor racing industry’s showcase event.The study stated, “The implications of the EU directive on the number of hours in the working week has particular implications for an industry that works to deadlines, with highly specialised labour which is very difficult to increase or substitute.”Chris Aylett, chief executive of the Motorsport Industry Association, said it would be very difficult for high-tech motor racing companies to comply with the EU Working Time directive without results suffering. Working time rules hinder race to meet deadlinesOn 16 Jan 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

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Survey finds Big Brother attitude

first_imgSurvey finds Big Brother attitudeOn 10 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Big Brother-style monitoring ofstaff was the biggest complaint against call centre operators by employeesduring the two-week operation of the TUC’s complaints hotline.Fifty-three per centof the 733 call centre employees who used the hotline in February claimed theywere even monitored when they went to the toilet, according to Calls for Change.Over 15 per cent saidthey do not receive adequate breaks, which the TUC claims goes against theWorking Time Directive. Calls for Change alsoshows that 13 per cent think their health and safety is at risk. Nearly one in10 complained about pay.Mags Thomas, UK HRmanager at airline ticket call centre Qualiflyer, said, “Call handlers’jobs are very challenging and good candidates are hard to find. “The poorpractices of some operators not only cost them staff, but impacts on all callcentres by creating poor public relations for the industry.”One employee who usedthe hotline said, “Although we usually come in early for no pay, if we areeven one minute late for work, we automatically lose 15 minutes’ money. But ifwe are in the middle of a call at the end of our shift, we have to stay behindwithout pay.”Andrew Ralston,customer relationship director of Virgin Mobile, called for HRteams to investin policies to bring change. He said, “Call centre culture is driven byproductivity and sales, which can lead to a terribly unfriendly workingenvironment.www.tuc.org.uk Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

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We believe in a minimum civilised standard at work

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Employment law has changed radically under Labour.  Industry minister Alan Johnson defends its performance onworkplace issues.  Ben Willmott reportsIndustry minister Alan Johnson is proud of the extensive employmentregulations the Government has introduced since 1997. Measures such as the National Minimum Wage, four weeks paid holiday and theWorking Time Directive were essential to ensure basic civilised standards inthe workplace, Johnson told Personnel Today. While he admits that regulatory compliance has created more work forbusiness, he does not believe it has adversely affected its competitiveness. He said, “It has been tough on business because we have introduced alot of things in a short time. This is because EU directives which were blockedby the previous government had to come in within a certain timescale. “We are adamant about what we believe is a need for minimum civilisedstandards in the workplace. I do not think good employers have anything toworry about at all. We will never go back to the time when there was an attemptto sell the UK as the sweatshop of Europe.” The Labour Party is sensitive to criticism that its red tape is stiflingbusiness. Johnson stresses it has taken a balanced approach in introducingemployment regulation. He said, “We have been criticised by the tradeunions that the Working Time Directive did not go far enough and by employersthat we have gone too far. “We will try to ensure employers get plenty of notice on forthcominglegislation and allow plenty of time for consultation. We recognise theproblems for business and we want to take them along with us – that is a veryimportant part of our approach. “We have introduced the Better Regulation Passport and the RegulatoryReform Act to make it quicker and easier to repeal out- of-date regulation.There is also the Better Regulation Task Force, which examines every piece oflegislation.” The minister believes one of Labour’s key achievements has been to createeconomic stability and tackle the productivity gap. He said, “There has been significant progress on the development ofeducation skills levels, getting the right framework for competition policy andregulation, providing good quality public infrastructure and the rightincentives for business to invest. “We reduced Capital Gains tax. Corporation tax is at the lowest levelever – the lowest of any industrialised nation. We have enhanced first-yearcapital allowances and made them permanent, and introduced new research anddevelopment tax credits for SMEs.” Johnson believes there is a cultural issue involved in the productivity gap.He said, “What I have found since being industry minister is that we arenot very good at spreading best practice and not very good at cooperating tocompete in an industry. “We took our shipbuilding and ship repair industry to see how thingsoperate in Holland. The {UK] industry realised they were competitors but thereare a whole string of things they need to cooperate on, such as skills andtraining, patents and investment in the infrastructure of the industry. “That type of approach can be replicated in other industries.” He points to the partnership between the CBI and TUC in helping to solve theproductivity gap as an example of the joint working needed to tackle the issue.Another key area of success for the Government has been the promotion ofwork-life balance practices, claimed Johnson. He is convinced that employers will benefit from adapting to the changingexpectations of the workforce. “There is a genuine feeling that the best companies have already beendoing this very successfully,” he said. “There is a tight labourmarket out there and women have skills they [employers] cannot afford to losefrom the workplace. “I think there is a huge problem with people being genuinely unhappyabout their working life and their ability to balance it with their domesticlife. The Government increased the length of statutory maternity leave to 26 weeksand the amount of unpaid maternity leave so women can have a year off in total.Maternity pay is also being increased from £60.32 to £100 a week and two weeks’paternity leave is being introduced. He said, “I think this is part of having a more civilised environment.A lot of companies do this already but many companies are stuck in the oldroutines. We have to spread best practice and I think there is a good businesscase for doing that. We have to invest in future generations, to invest inensuring children are raised properly and parents have time to spend with theirchildren.” Johnson is confident that government initiatives to tackle skills shortageswill also prove successful. He said the new Learning and Skills Councils willhelp educate and train adults who have fallen through the educational net Johnson added, “Whichever industry you look at, they are all concernedabout skills shortages and middle management. “Two new technology institutes will open in each region to meet therising demand for high-level technology skills. We aim to get 750,000 morepeople achieving basic skills levels by 2004. “The Learning and Skills Councils are just getting off the ground. Iwould not say we have done everything we could do because it is such a vastproblem. We are listening to industry as well to see how it thinks we canimprove.” www.labour.org.uk Comments are closed. We believe in a minimum civilised standard at workOn 5 Jun 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

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Sloppy skills management is harming business

first_imgMost employers do not have a clear picture of their employees’ skills or howhard they work, according to a study. Research by workforce consultancy Netengines claims poor management means UKbusinesses – by their own admission – are working at only four-fifths of theirfull potential. The survey of more than 100 HR directors and managers finds that one in fiveemployers has no idea how many people work for them, half don’t know whatskills their workers have, and three in five don’t know how hard their staffwork. Netengines CEO Andrew Binns said: “Workers used to resent being ‘just anumber’, but now millions of employees aren’t even that, as far as their bossesare concerned. “Their employers don’t know they are there, what they are good at orhow much work they are doing. Two in three firms told us this sloppiness washarming them – but they don’t have plans to do anything about it.” The study claims businesses’ lack of knowledge about their staff also wastesskills and money. Two in three firms cannot efficiently match employees to jobs, despite aneed to in the current economic climate. Instead they spend money recruitingnew staff. Binns added: “Businesses can’t afford to lose staff they can use betterbecause the cost of recruitment is rising.” www.netengines.com Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Sloppy skills management is harming businessOn 26 Feb 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

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News in brief

first_imgNews in briefOn 25 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today This week’s news in briefFE business boost Businesses are to help decide what courses further education colleges shouldoffer, in a £43m initiative to ‘put learners’ and employers’ needs first’, theGovernment has announced. Estelle Morris, education secretary, said learningand skills councils would review regions and if areas lacked the institutionsneeded, new ones would be set up.  www.lsc.gov.ukPay rises speed up Salary increases are expected to accelerate in 2002-03 despite concernsabout the future economic climate, according to the 2002 Salary Budget Surveyby Watson Wyatt. The survey shows that companies are budgeting for an average 4per cent salary increase for the coming fiscal year.  www.watsonwyatt.comPay checks urged The Equal Opportunities Commission advised employers to check their paysystems are fair after a female cleaner won a case for sex discrimination andvictimisation when she found she was earning 60p per hour less than a malecolleague. Hannant Cleaning Services was ordered to pay £2,540 compensation.   www.eoc.org.ukBuilding site cheats The leader of building workers’ union Ucatt is calling on the Government toraid building sites to catch dole cheats, the bogus self-employed and thesub-contracting companies that enable these practices to take place. GeorgeBrumwell’s call follows a Benefits Agency blitz last month on the ScottishParliament building site, which discovered that one in eight workers was abenefit cheat.  www.ucatt.org.ukEU harmony criticised British and Italian employers are hoping a new alliance between the CBI andItalian group Confindustria will prevent further EU employment laws. In a jointstatement on labour market policy, timed to influence the latest EU summit inSeville, the groups criticise the EU for attempting to develop Europe-wide lawsin areas where it is difficult to harmonise national approaches.  www.cbi.org.uk Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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News in brief

first_img Previous Article Next Article News in briefOn 22 Aug 2006 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Geordies to keep their ‘pets’Newcastle City Council has denied claims that it banned employees from using words like ‘pet’, ‘hinny’ and ‘love’ when talking to women. An unnamed employee last week claimed that the words had been banned on the grounds they could be offensive. But the council said that employees had been told during diversity training to make a “judgement” before using the words.personneltoday.com/36853.articleSickies cost nothingWorkers pulling sickies are costing almost nothing to business, research from Swansea University has suggested. The study from the university shows the cost of worker absenteeism to British industry could be as much as £13bn less than other surveys suggest. Earlier this year, a report by the CBI revealed the cost of sickness absence to UK employers had reached its highest-ever level. The study put the cost to the economy at more than £13bn.personneltoday.com/36862.articleExecs trust PAs moreBritish executives are more likely to entrust their PA with secrets than their own siblings, according to research. About 40% of executives said they would trust their PA with a secret. But only 38% said they would trust their brothers, and just 32% put faith in their sisters.personneltoday/36865.article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Multifamily’s trillion-dollar tango

first_imgShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Multifamily lenders and policymakers have taken much the same approach with evictions and mounting debt during the pandemic: Put things off and hope the rental market’s problems resolve themselves before it’s too late.That strategy persists as vaccinations ramp up. But with a surge in Covid cases, restrictions on economic activity and evictions could continue for months. As landlords hold on, they are on the hook for more than $1 trillion in multifamily debt held by agency and bank lenders.Tenants’ debt, too, is building — they owe $57 billion in back rent and utilities, Moody’s Analytics estimates. Yet landlords are not walking away from their assets.That’s largely because, miraculously, rental payments haven’t fallen much throughout the pandemic. Although an industry group in December reported the largest drop in rental payments in market-rate units since April, apartments — unlike some other asset types — are still performing.Lenders are more inclined to work with multifamily borrowers whose cash flow problems are seen as temporary, rather than hotel or luxury condo developers, whose assets may have fundamental, long-term problems.Lenders, however, don’t have infinite patience, even if they prefer not to foreclose, said David Wright, CEO of Beverly Hills-based multifamily developer Markwood. “The understanding between lenders and borrowers is that we want to be able to access the capital markets, and they don’t want to own real estate,” he said. “But there’s going to be a limit, at which point people are going to have to take a harder stance.”Waiting for GodotNew York’s eviction moratoriums have been a drag on its multifamily market for nearly 10 months. With a near-blanket ban on evictions — fewer than a dozen have been executed in the five boroughs since March — one might expect mass nonpayment of rent.But in fact, tenants are largely paying.Even in New York, a state where the “cancel rent” movement gets a lot of press and socialists using anti-landlord rhetoric have won several legislative seats, only 12 percent of residents say they are behind on housing payments or unsure they can pay next month’s rent, according to a Census Bureau survey. That’s worse than the national average of 9.5 percent, but far better than many expected.“I was really surprised early on in the pandemic that most of my residents were paying their rent,” said Robert Nelson, who owns more than 4,000 rental apartments in New York City through his firm Nelson Management. “My experience is that the Covid relief money people have received has gone toward paying their expenses, and that has amounted to pretty decent rent collections.”About the same percentage of Californians as New Yorkers are behind on rent or worried about their next payment. But 35 percent of Californians perceive a risk of eviction, a much higher figure than in New York, according to the Census survey.That may reflect California’s more landlord-friendly approach to evictions. In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom limited evictions for nonpayment, a measure that expires at the end of January. Tenants can be evicted, however, if they do not return a declaration of hardship within a 15-day notice period and pay 25 percent of their rent debt by the end of January.New York, on the other hand, has put all residential evictions on ice until May, except for those deemed necessary to protect other residents’ safety. Renters need not prove any financial hardship or go to court.Proponents of eviction moratoriums argue they are necessary to prevent a wave of homelessness during a pandemic. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that without any policy intervention, about 3.9 million tenants would be evicted, representing 7 percent of renter-occupied housing units.“This is a significant number,” Zandi said in a statement. “Eviction rates have hovered between 2.3 and 3.2 percent from 2000 to 2016.”But the eviction protections do not address the real estate industry’s need for steady rent to pay its mortgages, maintenance and property management bills. Many landlords say removing the threat of eviction deters tenants from paying.Trade groups, including the National Multifamily Housing Council, have instead favored expanding rental vouchers, which are paid directly to landlords. Some of the organizations have also pushed for a break on property taxes to landlords who provide rent relief, although that is a tough sell with cash-strapped state and local governments.Longer-term, the real estate industry argues for property tax reductions, rather than rent control, as a way to make housing more affordable.“Our industry is extremely responsive to financial incentives,” said David Schwartz, CEO of Chicago-based Waterton and the chair of the multifamily council. “So [if] you remove property tax from the equation, we’ll do a lot of things for affordability.”Borrow another dayThe multifamily sector has not taken the beating that hospitality and retail have or that office landlords fear, but neither has it emerged unscathed.Nearly half of the multifamily market’s $1.65 trillion in outstanding mortgage debt is secured by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two quasi-governmental agencies overseen by the Federal Housing Administration. Responding to the first wave of the pandemic, the agencies moved quickly — even before Congress passed a relief bill — to offer borrowers forbearance. Community banks, which hold a smaller but not insubstantial chunk of multifamily mortgages, also allowed borrowers to defer loan payments.But as that debt continues to pile up, lenders may struggle to distinguish between borrowers with time-limited cash flow issues stemming from Covid and those whose assets have other problems.One of the most high-profile flameouts in New York so far, involving Isaac Kassirer’s Emerald Equity Group, was mostly a case of bad timing.In 2016, with a pile of institutional cash, Emerald scooped up thousands of low-income, rent-regulated Harlem rentals, and  it refinanced them with Freddie Mac in 2018 on the expectation of raising rents.The next year, New York changed its rent law, eliminating much of landlords’ capacity to raise rents on regulated units. Then tenants in some of the Harlem buildings went on rent strike.The debt for 40 buildings in Kassirer’s portfolio was placed on hold last spring as lenders offered forbearance to their borrowers in response to the pandemic. Covid had little to do with the buildings’ problems, though.By December, the rent strike had gone on for more than a year and vacancies were increasing. Twelve of the buildings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, citing the rent strike as the main cause.A few days after the bankruptcy filing, attorneys representing tenants at 203 West 107th Street sued to compel Kassirer to resolve housing code violations — including bedbugs and a rat infestation — as a requirement of the debt restructuring.Yet insiders do not expect the lending community to sour on Kassirer, saying that as long as he avoids taking an adversarial stance with his lender, others would remain open to giving him loans.One explanation is that the changes to New York’s rent law caught the entire sector by surprise, and lenders would rather not take control of so many buildings. So Kassirer will live to borrow another day.“The fact that he bought the buildings and gave them back doesn’t make him a bad guy,” said Joshua Stein, a commercial real estate attorney. “The only thing that would make him a bad guy [with lenders] is if he were to engage in liability action, using bankruptcy as a sword rather than a shield.”Stein said that he expects many multifamily borrowers will experience distress, as Kassirer has, but it may take some time.“It’s a downward spiral, and it’s scary,” said one large New York City landlord, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And they’re not going down because of Covid — it’s because of the [new rent] laws.”Value-deferredIf multifamily distress becomes widespread, it may show up first in the assets backing commercial mortgage-backed securities, which typically are too risky to be secured by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.The Mortgage Bankers Association, which tracks delinquency rates across several loan types, reported that multifamily CMBS delinquencies reached 7.9 percent in the third quarter of 2020. The rate for mortgages secured by Freddie Mac was just 0.13 percent.CMBS represents less than 3 percent of outstanding multifamily mortgage debt — although the properties they’re lending on are “more problematic,” said Will Matthews, a multifamily broker at Colliers International, meaning they may have deferred maintenance or other risk factors that worry lenders.More distress could also occur in assets where an owner’s investment strategy is specifically threatened by a long-term pause on evictions. Landlords seeking to increase revenue by improving apartments and raising rents are unable to do so as long as eviction moratoriums keep tenants in place. That model depends on being able to push tenants out and get renovation crews in.Eviction moratoriums — and rent control, which unlike Covid won’t go away with a vaccine — wreck that strategy. For now, most landlords are hoping the eviction moratoriums will be lifted in mid-2021 and are putting off rent increases until then.There’s also an understanding that value-add multifamily — one of the most recession-resistant strategies — is as close to a sure thing as exists in real estate, even if owners must put it off for a time.“When people are buying into value-add multifamily, they’re not just buying for a year,” said one executive at a New York City-based investment firm. “Even if they’re kicking it into year two or three, the numbers still work.”That could explain why investors are still hopeful. In the third quarter, government-sponsored agencies increased their multifamily debt holdings by 3 percent, as did state and local governments. Pension funds, which provide the financial firepower for the largest asset allocators, are also increasing their multifamily holdings, according to Doug Weill, a partner at real estate capital advisory firm Hodes Weill. The stable returns on multifamily properties put them “high on the buy list” for such institutions, he said.Robust returns, however, depend on being able to eventually raise rents. For now, the sector has few options but to wait and see what becomes of the gathering storm clouds.“Do we have a choice?” asked Nelson, the big multifamily landlord. “I don’t think we do.” Share via Shortlinkcenter_img TagsEvictionsMultifamilyNYC Landlordsrent regulationlast_img read more

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Relative abundance of large whales around South Georgia (1979–1998

first_imgTo assess large-whale stocks following the cessation of land-based South Georgia whaling in 1965, we report three independent sighting databases: a cruise in 1997, observations from Bird Island (NW of South Georgia) between 1979 and 1998, and mariner sightings between 1992 and 1997. All species were rare, with sightings of southern right whales being the most common event. Two right whales photographed off South Georgia matched animals known from Peninsula Valdés, Argentina, a population known to be growing at 7%per annum. In contrast, blue and fin whales appeared to be less abundant. A single blue whale mother-calf pair was observed off the Shag Rocks in February 1997. Extirpation of animals from this particular feeding ground is the most likely reason for ongoing low numbers of all species. Other factors may include competition for krill by traditional predators such as penguins and seals and more recently by humans, an unusually high rate of natural mortality, habitat change such as alteration in sea ice coverage, and/or the impact of ongoing whaling. The history of this critical area of large-whale habitat and this report demonstrate the need for improved, consistent longterm monitoring of population trends for these depleted stocks.last_img read more

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Genetic structure of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa in the northeast Atlantic revealed by microsatellites and internal transcribed spacer sequences

first_imgThe azooxanthellate scleractinian coral Lophelia pertusa has a near-cosmopolitan distribution, with a main depth distribution between 200 and 1000 m. In the northeast Atlantic it is the main framework-building species, forming deep-sea reefs in the bathyal zone on the continental margin, offshore banks and in Scandinavian fjords. Recent studies have shown that deep-sea reefs are associated with a highly diverse fauna. Such deep-sea communities are subject to increasing impact from deep-water fisheries, against a background of poor knowledge concerning these ecosystems, including the biology and population structure of L. pertusa. To resolve the population structure and to assess the dispersal potential of this deep-sea coral, specific microsatellites markers and ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences ITS1 and ITS2 were used to investigate 10 different sampling sites, distributed along the European margin and in Scandinavian fjords. Both microsatellite and gene sequence data showed that L. pertusa should not be considered as one panmictic population in the northeast Atlantic but instead forms distinct, offshore and fjord populations. Results also suggest that, if some gene flow is occurring along the continental slope, the recruitment of sexually produced larvae is likely to be strongly local. The microsatellites showed significant levels of inbreeding and revealed that the level of genetic diversity and the contribution of asexual reproduction to the maintenance of the subpopulations were highly variable from site to site. These results are of major importance in the generation of a sustainable management strategy for these diversity-rich deep-sea ecosystems.last_img read more

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Forecasting the Earth’s radiation belts and modelling solar energetic particle events: Recent results from SPACECAST

first_imgHigh-energy charged particles in the van Allen radiation belts and in solar energetic particle events can damage satellites on orbit leading to malfunctions and loss of satellite service. Here we describe some recent results from the SPACECAST project on modelling and forecasting the radiation belts, and modelling solar energetic particle events. We describe the SPACECAST forecasting system that uses physical models that include wave-particle interactions to forecast the electron radiation belts up to 3 h ahead. We show that the forecasts were able to reproduce the >2 MeV electron flux at GOES 13 during the moderate storm of 7–8 October 2012, and the period following a fast solar wind stream on 25–26 October 2012 to within a factor of 5 or so. At lower energies of 10 – a few 100 keV we show that the electron flux at geostationary orbit depends sensitively on the high-energy tail of the source distribution near 10 RE on the nightside of the Earth, and that the source is best represented by a kappa distribution. We present a new model of whistler mode chorus determined from multiple satellite measurements which shows that the effects of wave-particle interactions beyond geostationary orbit are likely to be very significant. We also present radial diffusion coefficients calculated from satellite data at geostationary orbit which vary with Kp by over four orders of magnitude. We describe a new automated method to determine the position at the shock that is magnetically connected to the Earth for modelling solar energetic particle events and which takes into account entropy, and predict the form of the mean free path in the foreshock, and particle injection efficiency at the shock from analytical theory which can be tested in simulations.last_img read more

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