Archive for » September 15th, 2012«

Top 10 Agency Initiatives: Office of Personnel Management


As part of the special Federal News Radio series, “The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years,” we asked more than two dozen federal agencies — including all of the Cabinet-level agencies — for a list of the three most effective, nonpolitical management initiatives or policies they’ve embarked on over the past four years.

From the responses collected from nine agencies, Federal News Radio narrowed the list down of the top 10 agency initiatives — in the agencies’ own words. Below, read more about the top Office of Personnel Management initiative, as selected by Federal News Radio, as well as other initiatives OPM singled out for recognition.

Hiring Reform (Student Pathways, Diversity and Inclusion, and Disability Hiring)

Hiring reform — The President’s Hiring Reform Initiative has completely overhauled the federal hiring process. First, we have moved to a resume-based system, eliminating anachronisms such as the “KSA essays” and the “rule of 3.” We’ve also substantially cut the average time to hire. Second, in response to Executive Order 13562, we launched the Pathways Programs, which were designed to recruit new talent by creating clear pathways to federal service for students and recent graduates. The federal government needs to recruit top talent, particularly into mission-critical jobs and professional careers where there are skill gaps. Moreover, the federal workforce is aging, and agencies need to build talent pipelines to recruit and retain new talent to better serve the American people. The federal government benefits from a diverse workforce that includes students and recent graduates, who infuse the workplace with their enthusiasm, talent, and unique perspectives. The Pathways Programs give federal agencies flexibility to address critical skill gaps. Hiring managers can hire a broad range of talent from high school to graduate school and cultivate a new generation of experts and leaders. From the applicant perspective, hiring reform has made it easier to find and apply for student internships on USAJOBS and to find meaningful work, career development opportunities, and mentorship.

Disability hiring — As part of the President’s Executive Order 13548 to increase federal hiring of people with disabilities, in February 2012 OPM proposed changes to the rules for hiring people with disabilities. The proposed changes would eliminate the requirement that an applicant supply a certification of job readiness when applying for consideration under a special hiring authority for people with disabilities. This change will remove an unnecessary burden for these individuals when they apply for federal jobs. OPM is in the process of drafting the final rule. In addition, OPM has been working with partner agencies to improve efforts to employ workers with disabilities though increased recruitment, hiring and retention. OPM has identified these efforts as a key component of human resource strategies, and has required and encouraged agencies to adopt an integrated approach involving their Human Resource, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Diversity and Inclusion offices.

Diversity — Finally, the President issued Executive Order 13583, Establishing a Coordinated Government-Wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce (August 18, 2011). The President’s Executive Order recognizes that the commitment to equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion is critical for the federal government as an employer. In order to cultivate high performing organizations for the 21st century, OPM developed the Government-Wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan to ensure that we tap into the rich resources of our eclectic community and ensure fairness and justice in the workplace. Fifty-four agencies have since developed agency-specific Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plans, consistent with the governmentwide plan, to pursue a more comprehensive, integrated, and strategic focus on diversity and inclusion as a key component of their human resources strategies. Agencies are expected to implement practices within their agencies that promote diversity and inclusion for all employees.

Veterans Employment Initiative

The President’s Veterans Employment Initiative, established by Executive Order 13518, provides an unprecedentedly comprehensive approach to improving employment opportunities for veterans in the federal government. The initiative included the creation of the Council on Veterans Employment, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Labor and Veterans Affairs, to advise the President on improving federal employment opportunities for veterans. The initiative produced the governmentwide Veterans’ Recruitment and Employment Strategic Plan for FY 2010-2012, which addresses barriers to veterans’ employment in several areas. Veteran Employment Program Offices have been established in the 24 agencies covered by the Executive order. A governmentwide marketing campaign on the value of veteran employees and marketing toolkits have been provided to federal agencies. Web-based training has been provided for HR professionals and hiring managers, and a career development program for student veteran trainees in mission-critical occupations has been established, among other innovations. This Veterans Employment Initiative has resulted in the highest percentage of veterans (28.3 percent of total hires in 2011) hired by the federal government in more than 20 years.


Performance Management

OPM’s current performance management initiatives are important because they further the overarching goal for the federal government to operate in an effective, efficient, and accountable manner. OPM’s current initiatives, related to both the Senior Executive Service (SES) and non-SES performance management, are focused on accountability and results. They emphasize the use of strategies and practices vital to operational success, such as clear performance expectations; frequent formal and informal feedback; reliable, impartial treatment for good and bad performance; and alignment of organizational and employee performance management processes. We believe these initiatives will be effective because they strive to improve the way employees and supervisors engage with each other to jointly work towards organizational goals, and these initiatives promote accountability at all levels of the agency.




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CTA Hosts Third Job Fair for Bus Drivers

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The Chicago Transit Authority is hosting its third job fair to hire 400 part-time drivers ahead of next year’s multi-month closure of South Side rail stations.

The event began at 9 a.m. Saturday at Kennedy-King College, located at 740 W. 63rd Street, Chicago, Illinois. The job fair runs until 1 p.m., according to the website.

The CTA wants drivers to primarily shuttle commuters next spring during the Red Line South Track Renewal Project, but transit officials said the positions could lead to full-time jobs

Those interested in the opportunities should attend the job fairs prepared with a valid, Class B Commercial driver’s license or permit with general knowledge, passenger transport and air brake endorsements. They should also have a court-purposed motor vehicle record obtained through the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office.


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Our Real Employment Challenge

Think the problem is, there just aren’t enough jobs? Think again.

jobfairban.jpg

How can the United States put more people back to work? The simple answer is to generate higher growth than we have seen so far in this recovery — in the final analysis, only higher demand will convince employers to hire.

But even if GDP growth were more robust, the United States would still face an employment challenge — one that all advanced economies face. Demand for high-skilled workers (those with college degrees or more education) is accelerating, while demand for low- and middle-skilled workers is falling. This is the result of technology and business-process improvements, which have automated or eliminated whole categories of low-skill jobs, while creating new careers for high-skilled workers. So, even as millions of low- and middle-skilled Americans have joined the long-term unemployed, employers say they are having increasing difficulty filling high-skilled jobs, particularly those that require technical expertise.


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These trends point to a grim situation: There are too few workers with the skills to drive growth in a 21st-century knowledge economy, and swelling ranks of workers whose skills will not be in demand and who could therefore face long spells of unemployment and underemployment. For the long-term health of the US economy, employers and policy makers need to head off both forms of labor market imbalance.

Preventing a crippling lack of high-skill workers is relatively simple. Across advanced economies, there could be 18 million too few college graduates in 2020, but only 1.5 million of this gap would occur in the United States. China, Europe, and Japan all will face far larger gaps, because of aging and low birth rates; China could have 23 million fewer college graduates than it would need.

The United States is not so well-positioned when it comes to addressing the employment problems of less-educated workers. One way to do so would be to move people out of the low- and middle-skill categories (high school graduates and workers with some college or associate’s degrees) into the high-skill group. But even after raising the college graduation rate enough to avoid the projected 2020 gap, there would still be more than 100 million Americans with associate’s degrees or less, whose basic education may not give them skills that employers are likely to demand.

Not every American can go to college, but everyone should be able to acquire skills that make them employable. Germany does this through a high school vocational training system that is tightly integrated with industry. Students split time between classroom and work and graduate with the right skills and a job. These programs can be adapted for the United States. In fact, Germany’s Siemens is working with a community college in Charlotte, N.C., to train workers in its turbine factory there. Delta Airlines and Snap-on Tools have partnered with community colleges to create curricula for reservations agents and auto mechanics who need to know how to use high-tech diagnostic and repair tools.

One of the biggest challenges will be finding jobs for mid-career workers whose skills may no longer be in demand or have eroded due to long-term unemployment. Again, Germany provides a possible model. Germany’s unemployment system was redesigned in the 1990s to stress training and job placement, rather than simply providing benefits. Germany also encourages employers to hire the long-term unemployed by paying up to half of their wages for up to two years.

Displaced American workers can also benefit from credentialing. Workers who have accumulated skills on the job, but who lack formal training or education, have trouble “signaling” their value in the labor market. Through a voluntary credentialing system, workers can be certified in specific jobs — for example, managing accounts receivable — so they can transfer their skills to a new employer.

To reach full employment, we must also tackle the demand side of the equation. The first step is to make sure that businesses have every opportunity to create jobs when they see a chance to grow. The United States remains relatively business-friendly, but many processes, such as getting permits for new plants, are overly complex and time-consuming, involving multiple agencies and layers of government. Multinationals want to be here — we still have the largest consumer market in the world. We can make it far easier for them to expand here, including by creating one-stop processes for getting approvals and permits.

The United States can also help create jobs by making it easier for foreign tourists to visit. Leisure and hospitality industries are particularly good at employing the least skilled workers in the economy. The United States remains a top destination for global tourists but has lost share because of post-9/11 restrictions and visa policies, which often affect citizens of the fastest-growing consumer markets (e.g. Asia). Relatively simple fixes could help bring back global tourism.

Finally, there is no substitute for innovation. The United States must continue to invest in the research and development that leads to new industries — both through support for basic research and through RD incentives for business. Entrepreneurs also need access to funding to turn ideas into products, services, and companies. Then, we can do a better job of making sure that innovations that are created in the United States turn into U.S. jobs. This may not mean thousands of positions on the factory floor, where we will continue to see many new machines and fewer people. However, as new McKinsey Global Institute research shows, manufacturing includes a growing number of service jobs, both within manufacturing companies and in their supply chains.

Our jobs challenge is complex and it has been building for many years. The solutions will need to be multi-faceted and enduring — and flexible, too. In a dynamic global economy, skill requirements will change rapidly, so education and training systems will need to be adaptable. Most important, the United States needs a clear, consistent focus on jobs that will enable us to deal with both the wrenching effects of recessions, but also with the reality of an evolving global labor market that will involve new ways of working and skills that we can’t even predict today.

More From The Atlantic


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John Florez: Is Workforce Services too big to fail?

The Utah Department of Workforce Services, or DWS, has had more than its share of problems. It is an agency charged with meeting the state’s employment needs, welfare for needy families and helping the unemployed in these tough economic times.

A 2009 legislative audit found DWS had made a $28.1 million error in entering Medicaid eligibility costs. That function had been transferred from the health department to DWS as a cost-saving move. In another instance, DWS employees released confidential information on about 1,300 supposedly illegal immigrants. Now, it is undergoing another legislative audit triggered by numerous complaints by staff being mistreated and threatened for having raised them. And advocates for the poor continue to raise concerns about the insensitive treatment clients receive.

The director has been lauded for managing DWS in an efficient and cost-saving way and was recently promoted to oversee the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget to assure efficiency in state agencies.

DWS is charged with an enormous responsibility. It oversees such programs as Unemployment Insurance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, childcare, training and managing a budget of $1.1 billion. DWS was created in 1997 to allow for a more seamless system in the delivery of services to its customers. It must comply with a myriad and often conflicting federal regulations that fund the majority of its programs. The agency has received several awards for meeting federally mandated goals.

The former department director had enjoyed good relations with the Legislature by trying to meet its directives and appears to share a similar attitude about public assistance for the needy, such as the case with the food stamp program. She says recipients should meet work requirements and the agency is prepared to assist them.

Somehow that seems difficult since even skilled workers are still seeking jobs. Is it possible that part of the problem the agency is experiencing might be due to the director’s willingness to do more with less at the expense of quality of service?

The department is charged with managing a plethora of programs with multiple missions, thus diluting its core purpose of providing timely employment service and helping individuals obtain employment. Now, the Legislature is proposing to add housing to its portfolio, while the director continues to try to do more with less.


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Job seekers’ chances at career fair: ‘pretty good,’ employers say – Winston

The odds of finding work in a 10 percent unemployment climate remain frustratingly long Friday for the 615 job seekers at the Winston-Salem Urban League’s annual career fair.

But as they entered the gymnasium of Forsyth Technical Community College’s West campus, their collective sense of optimism and hope was unmistakable.

Unlike many recent job fairs, in which the best outcome to be expected was a handshake and an exchanged résumé, many of the 47 participating employers are actively hiring.

Those employers, including BBT Corp., Caterpillar Inc., Inmar Inc., Pepsi Bottling Ventures LLC and RockTenn Co., are not looking for workers when and if the economy turns around. They say they need qualified applicants now.

That reality stoked Marcy Lucas’ pursuit of a new information-technology or project coordinator job after a 10-month employment contract wasn’t renewed. She said she was out of work for about a year before the contract job came along.

Lucas said she has tried her best to stay optimistic in her job search “because otherwise it gets frustrating and draining.”

“Even if there isn’t a right fit with one employer here, maybe they have heard of other companies that are hiring that might be a fit,” Lucas said.

The bulk of the job seekers ranged from their early 30s to late 60s, and crossed genders and races.

David Coady, an Inmar recruiter, said the company has IT and customer-service job openings created by attrition and expansion.

The company committed in April to expanding in Winston-Salem, pledging to add 212 jobs and retain more than 700 employees. It said in July that it was moving its headquarters to downtown by late 2013.

“We have between 10 and 12 openings now on our website, and that can fluctuate on a daily basis,” Coady said. “We need tech expertise for the IT positions and some level of previous customer-service experience.”

When asked the odds of Friday’s job seekers eventually getting hired by Inmar, Coady stressed it was “pretty good.”

“We have received, as you can imagine since the announcement, a huge number of applications,” Coady said. “An online application is a must so we can track applicants.

“However, one of the reasons we come to these job fairs is because we tend to meet people who come cold to our booth. They may have many of the job skills we are looking for.”

RockTenn’s Merchandising Displays division has about 30 job openings, many related to a new shift it has started in Winston-Salem, according to Tonya Chatwood, a human-resources coordinator. The company has more than 600 local employees after completing its acquisition of Smurfit-Stone this year.

“Some of the jobs are those that have opened up because employees have been promoted,” Chatwood said. “Qualified candidates for our entry-level jobs in many instances need a high school diploma or a GED.”

Caterpillar, understandably, had the most popular booth in the early hours of the job fair given the company’s stability and plans to have 510 full- and part-time jobs.

Allen Unger, a human resources official, said Caterpillar is ramping up the machinist side of operations as the foundation and flooring work is completed.

Caterpillar will hire up to 120 machinists, company officials have said.

“We prefer five or more years in experience with machinery, along with computer skills and blueprint reading, but we will hire entry-level positions for those with a two-year associate’s degree,” Unger said.

The crowded aisles looked good to Keith Grandberry, chief executive and president of the Urban League.

Grandberry preaches to people seeking employment and job-training assistance that they “have to create opportunities for themselves because it’s still a very tough job market.”

“It’s not hard to encourage employers to come to our career fair because they know many of the job seekers here have gone through our program this week and may be better qualified than those they see at a typical job fair,” Grandberry said.

That’s what Cynthia Moir said she’s counting on in finding a health care counseling job. She worked 26 years for Forsyth Medical Center before taking another job in April. The new job, however, fell through, dumping her into the job market.

“The Urban League taught me how to better present myself, brand myself, sell myself to employers,” Moir said. “I’ve already made three good contacts for next week, so I am on cloud nine about my chances of getting hired.”


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Employment law reforms are attack on workers, unions claim

The Business Secretary confirmed that controversial “fire at will” proposals have been abandoned but firms are to be given stronger legal protections to pay off under-performing staff.

Workers also face a drastic cut in how much compensation they can win in unfair dismissal cases as part of the shake-up aimed at getting businesses hiring again.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Whilst the ‘fire at will’ proposal has been watered down, the remaining proposals represent an unprecedented and unacceptable attack on the employment rights of teachers and other ordinary working people.

”The Liberal Democrats should be ashamed to be associated with the introduction of measures which give employers licence to exploit, bully and discriminate against their workforce.

“However the Coalition seeks to spin this announcement, this emphasises the contempt for working people which pervades the Coalition’s policies.”

Mr Cable confirmed that “no-fault dismissal” proposals made in the David Cameron-commissioned Beecroft Report are being dropped after a lack of support for the idea among the business community.

The Liberal Democrat has made no secret of his opposition to the recommendation, which many Tories backed, but aides were keen to stress the controversial proposal was being ditched because there was “no significant evidence” that it would help employers and insisted Conservative as well as Lib Dem ministers were behind the move.

The Business Secretary wants to bolster settlement agreements – where employers can offer under-performing employees a pay off – so they become more widely used to resolve disputes.

Under the proposals if the worker accepts the deal it will become legally protected so it cannot be used later as evidence in any court case or tribunal.

Officials insist the move is fair to employees as they are not obliged to take the offer and also incentivises bosses to come up with a good package, which can include a binding promise of a favourable reference.

Mr Cable will also consult on plans to change the limit on unfair dismissal payouts to a maximum of 12 months’ salary or set it at an even lower figure.

He wants to reduce the current £72,300 cap significantly in the hope of encouraging small businesses to start hiring more staff.

The Lib Dem believes the current cap deters firms, particularly small businesses, from hiring because they fear they could be landed with a big bill.

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ figures show most cases are settled at around £5,000-£6,000 while just 6 per cent receive more than £30,000 and 1-2 per cent receive the maximum payout.

Also among the reforms are plans to giving judges powers to sift through tribunal cases before they reach court to allow them to dismiss weak cases without the need for a hearing.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: “The steps being taken here by government, and the ‘noises off’ about it being easier to sack people, will have a much more profound effect on workers than employers. It will increase feelings of job insecurity and reduce the confidence of workers as consumers to commit to spending.

”Therefore it will have a dampening effect on consumer demand which will in turn further weaken the confidence of businesses who consequently will not take on workers.“

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: ”We are very pleased that Adrian Beecroft’s proposal to allow employers to fire employees at whim has been ignored. This would have set workers’ rights back decades and created huge insecurity in workplaces throughout the country.

“However, reducing payouts for unfair dismissals will let bad employers off lightly and deter victims from pursuing genuine cases. This will feel like another slap in the face following the Government’s decision to bring in fees for employment tribunals.

”For all the Government’s talk that helping businesses to sack poor performing workers will make them more productive this is little more than a smokescreen to erode hard-won rights. Making it easier for bad employers to get away with misconduct is not the way to kick-start our economy and will not create a single job.“

Mr Cable said he was ”trying to strike a balance“ between helping employers and protecting employees.

”People would feel intimidated if they knew that they could be fired on the spot without good reason and that is why we have said no to those proposals,“ he told ITV1′s Daybreak.

”We don’t want people to feel insecure, but at the same time small companies have got to feel confident that if they take somebody on they’re not going to get caught up in a very elaborate, legalistic, time-consuming tribunal system.“

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: ”Ministers should be making it easier to hire, not easier to fire people. We are in a double dip recession due to this Government’s failed economic policies, not because of the protections people have at work. Instead of adopting a credible plan for growth, this Government is attacking the rights of every employee in this country.

“Sacrificing people’s rights at work is not the way to bolster consumer confidence and get our economy moving again.”

John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses said: “We welcome today’s announcement because almost half (42 per cent) of our members say employment law is the most difficult area of compliance.

”It shows a balanced package of measures which will help to reduce the fear of taking on staff for small firms.

“It is good news that instant dismissal plans have been shelved. We were against this idea, believing it could create a two-tier labour market and be bad news for worker relations.

”Too many small firms don’t take on staff because they fear being taken to an employment tribunal. Other firms fear facing an expensive and lengthy dismissal process. These measures will go some way to addressing the issues, improving the situation for both employers and employees alike.“

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ”Employers will be encouraged that the Government is taking steps to reduce the burden of the employment system and create a more flexible labour market.

“Dismissal is always a last resort, but is at times necessary to protect a business and other members of staff. The fear of malicious tribunal claims and an unnecessarily antagonistic dismissal process has a chilling effect on employment.

”We would urge the Government to move swiftly from consultation to implementation on settlement agreements and lower tribunal awards, as these proposals will boost confidence whenbusinesses on the ground can see them in action.“

PA


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Pay Strike Stops Work At Italian Space Agency

OPERATIONS at the San Marco Italian Space Agency in Ngomeni were yesterday paralysed to protest poor pay. Over 200 workers of the agency said they are demanding a pay rise from their employers.

The Union of Kenya Building and Construction general secretary Bernard Komoro said the employees salaries were last reviewed in 2010.

Komoro said the management of an Marco Italian Space Agency says it will review the salaries once the government renews its contract with Italy. He said a three years contract with workers ended on January 31, 2011 but the agency decided to renew their contract in February 1, the same year without any salary increment.

“The cost of life has risen yet we are only getting 13.5 per cent without proper allowances. For this reason, we were planning to hold a Collective Bargaining Agreement meeting with the management but it has not been possible,” he said.

“The management has postponed the meeting for the last one and half years now. We were supposed to hold the meeting on Thursday only to be told that it has been postponed again till further notice. We do not need to wait for the agreement between Kenya and Italy. We are working and we need proper salaries,” he added.

A shop steward at the agency, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they now want 85 per cent increment. “The CBA that was to be held yesterday was supposed to discuss salary increment and changes in terms of employment like working hours, allowances and insurance,” he said.

“Currently, the lowest paid worker earns Sh17, 000 and the highest Sh98, 000. This is just peanuts,” he added. ISA logistic manager Maurizio Toninelli said he does not understand why the meeting was postponed. When we contacted the ISA manager for a comment, he preferred to stay mum about the matter.

Recently, the joint Parliamentary Committee on Energy Information and Communication Technology and the Education Science and Technology toured the facility and probed the management on the agreement following claims that the agency was not benefitting the country from multi- billion project.

The committees led by led by James Rege, chairman of the Energy and ICT committee and John Pesa the Education committee chairman, ordered the management to provide a list of their employees and the annual revenue from the organization.


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Job Fair Helps Veterans Find Work

Some of our local veterans and their spouses are being put back to work, all thanks to a job fair held Friday afternoon.

It’s called the Hiring Our Heroes job fair, and was hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Foundation.

The government has hosted job fairs like this in 260 cities across the country since March of last year. Along the way, they’ve helped more than 10,000 veterans and their spouses find work.

Friday afternoon hundreds of veterans looking for employment filled the Joe Crowley Student Union at the University of Nevada.

Many of them say they can get discouraged quickly, not knowing what jobs they even qualify for.

“So having people there face to face to talk to and not have to get through the first step of having somebody call you back,” says Mike Phillips, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. “I think it’s huge.”

The veterans had plenty of options to choose from. They were joined by roughly 50 employers from around the country all looking to hire. West Corporation is one local company that was at the job fair.

One of their recruiters says they found some future employees.

“We’ve also taken quite a lot of resumes and we’re had quite a few people sign in as well looking for work,” says A.J. Jackson.

Folks with “Hiring Our Heroes” say right now we still have about 1 million unemployed veterans nationwide.

Written by Adam Rasmussen


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Employment law reforms attacked

Employment law reforms announced by Vince Cable will allow company bosses to “exploit and bully” workers, unions have claimed.

The Business Secretary confirmed that controversial “fire at will” proposals have been abandoned but firms are to be given stronger legal protections to pay off under-performing staff. Workers also face a drastic cut in how much compensation they can win in unfair dismissal cases as part of the shake-up aimed at getting businesses hiring again.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Whilst the ‘fire at will’ proposal has been watered down, the remaining proposals represent an unprecedented and unacceptable attack on the employment rights of teachers and other ordinary working people.

“The Liberal Democrats should be ashamed to be associated with the introduction of measures which give employers licence to exploit, bully and discriminate against their workforce. However the coalition seeks to spin this announcement, this emphasises the contempt for working people which pervades the coalition’s policies.”

Mr Cable confirmed that “no-fault dismissal” proposals made in the David Cameron-commissioned Beecroft Report are being dropped after a lack of support for the idea among the business community.

The Liberal Democrat has made no secret of his opposition to the recommendation, which many Tories backed, but aides were keen to stress the controversial proposal was being ditched because there was “no significant evidence” that it would help employers and insisted Conservative as well as Lib Dem ministers were behind the move.

The Business Secretary wants to bolster settlement agreements – where employers can offer under-performing employees a pay off – so they become more widely used to resolve disputes. Under the proposals if the worker accepts the deal it will become legally protected so it cannot be used later as evidence in any court case or tribunal.

Officials insist the move is fair to employees as they are not obliged to take the offer and also incentivises bosses to come up with a good package, which can include a binding promise of a favourable reference.

Mr Cable will also consult on plans to change the limit on unfair dismissal payouts to a maximum of 12 months’ salary or set it at a lower figure.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “Ministers should be making it easier to hire, not easier to fire people. We are in a double dip recession due to this Government’s failed economic policies, not because of the protections people have at work. Instead of adopting a credible plan for growth, this Government is attacking the rights of every employee in this country.”


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WORKPLACE: Older workers job fair is on Sept. 27 – Press

A first-of-its-kind Employment Resource Fair for older workers will be held on Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the YMCA/J. Simpson Center, 305 E. Devonshire Avenue in Hemet.

The event, sponsored by the Goodwill Southern California-Workforce and Career Development and the Riverside County Office on Aging, is designed to allow workers to meet with possible employers, network with some officials and network and visit with each other as well. There is no admission charge for either participants or vendors, and several workshops are scheduled.

This is timed to coincide with National Employ the Older Worker Week. The event is geared to remind the work world, especially employers, that workers who are of a certain age have the spirit and capacity to do good jobs.

More information is available from Carla Jones at 951 992-2369 or cjones@goodwillsocal.org, or from Mark Dunlap, at 951 867-3800, markdunlap@co.riverside.ca.us.

BILL SIGNED OVER

A bill that will strengthen protections for workers who wear religious garb while on the job was signed into law late last week by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

AB 1964, a bill assigned that numerical designation specifically to coincide with the year the federal Civil Rights Act became law, is designed to strengthen California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act by protecting workers against religious discrimination. It will also clear up definitions of what is a hardship or a hurdle for this type of situation.

In a practical sense, it will prevent an employer from failing to promote a person who exercises her or his religious freedom by wearing an item of clothing that is part of the faith. It would also act against an employer who might station a person with traditional religious clothing in a back room because it might spook the customers or does not fit a corporate image.

The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, and had support from numerous religious, civil rights, ethnic, legal and labor groups in the state.

JERSEY PACKER SUES TEMP JOB AGENCY

Sometimes the lines of responsibility and legality become blurred when a company depends on an employment agency to do all the hiring.

It was not cloudy for a New Jersey produce broker, however. This company went to see its attorneys when the wages paid to workers were called into question and the federal government issued a hefty fine.

Frank Donio Inc., of Hammonton, N.J., a wholesale produce packing company, says it was very much blindsided when the U.S. Department of Labor leveled a $657,069 fine for unpaid wages and overtime. Investigators determined that some 500 workers were not paid minimum wage, and found other irregularities as well.

The workers were hired by Heng Heng Agency, a Philadelphia employment agency. The Department of Labor, in a statement released last week, said that the workers were considered joint employees even though the Heng Heng Agency was the employer of record.

Frank Donio Inc. cooperated with the investigation and also went a step further. They sued Heng Heng in federal court, claiming they were deceived. FDI claims they paid the agency $9 per man-hour to supply labor and believed workers were being properly paid. Federal investigators have found that the crews were paid $6.50 an hour, less than minimum wage.

New Jersey’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.


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