Baby blues

Having babies is not a modern fad. Yet the way that employers frequently mishandle issues affecting expectant women you’d think it was something unusual and new to them. Only four in 10 women believe their bosses know how to handle pregnant staff. And we’re not talking about making sure someone gives up their seat in the staff canteen – there appears to be a serious knowledge gap when it comes to maternity rights. It means companies are putting themselves in danger of being liable to claims of pregnancy discrimination.
This kind of discrimination costs employers up to £126 million every year in recruitment to replace the 30,000 or so women who lose their jobs simply because they’re expecting.
An investigation by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) uncovered many factors relating to maternity of which businesses seemed completely ignorant. Some were even unaware that they could claim reimbursement for statutory maternity pay.

The companies act 2006 explained

The Companies Act 2006 comprises of 1,300 sections, approximately one third of which are genuinely new, including the following areas:
Company formation and constitution;
Company members and directors’ duties and powers;
Derivative actions and secretaries;
Company meetings and political donations;
Company accounts and auditors;
Private and public companies, share capital and allotments;
Company takeovers and investigations;
 Companies not formed under the Act and unregistered companies.

What should businesses have done already?

By now all companies should have made sure that order forms and other documents, whether hard copy or electronic, have been amended to include the company’s registered name (as opposed to just the trading name), number, place of registration and registered office.  It is easy to overlook the updating of a company’s website in a similar way but such an oversight will make the company liable for a fine.  Any officer of the company could also find themselves liable for a fine if they have authorised the issue of a non-compliant document.

Absenteeism: Use & Abuse

No-one can be under any illusion that absence from the workplace is a persistent and costly problem for British business.  The issue is more acute in the summer months as employers face increasing levels of sick leave and absenteeism, the timing of which is not always co-incidental.
According to the CBI, absenteeism levels in the UK are the main reason why UK productivity lags behind the US and our European competitors.  Output per UK worker is half that of US employees and is significantly lower than that of both France and Germany.  At any one time around 2.7 million workers are on long term sick leave costing employers some £11 billion.