IN THIS ISSUE - Join us for EEF’s Brussels Delegation - EEF calls on the Environment Agency for longer term charging certainty - New guidance on Agency Workers Regulations - Weekly Focus - EEF/Westfield Health Sickness Absence Survey 2011 - EEF in the news - Week in review - The week ahead
Join us for EEF’s Brussels Delegation, 22- 23 November 2011
Decisions taken by the EU are crucially important for British business. Not only is the EU our largest market, but around half of UK law originates from the EU. It is vital, therefore, that the voice of British business is heard there. With this in mind, EEF organises an annual delegation for our members to visit Brussels. This gives members a better understanding of the EU legislative process and how it affects their business and allows them to raise issues of concern directly with MEPs and officials from the European Commission.
This year’s Delegation will be held on 22-23 November and will have a specific focus on the EU’s approach to energy policy and environmental regulation, particularly in the area of climate change. We will also discuss ways in which the EU can promote environmental technologies.
The trip is open to all members and the agenda, which is in the process of being finalised, will include meetings with a range of key policy-makers.
If you are interested in attending or finding out more, please contact Steven Coventry, Head of Government Affairs
EEF calls on the Environment Agency for longer term charging certainty
This week, EEF gave the Environment Agency its support to explore options that would give regulated businesses more certainty over charges from 2012. During our meeting with the Agency, we highlighted that whilst the levels of charges on businesses are important, the current system of reviewing charging levels annually does little to help longer term budget planning carried out by manufacturers. We called for a strategic charging system based around government spending review timeframes.
For more information contact Gareth Stace, Head of Climate & Environmental Policy
New guidance on Agency Workers Regulations
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) today published their guidance to the Agency Workers Regulations 2010. The regulations, which will come into force on 1 October 2011, will affect all employers who use agency workers. For employers who currently pay agency workers less than direct recruits, the impact could be substantial. Whilst the guidance cannot change the complex and challenging nature of the regime imposed by the regulations themselves, EEF is pleased that Government listened to our concerns that the guidance be available in good time before 1 October 2011 and that they avoid gold-plating. The Government has stood firm, for example, on calls made by some to require hirers to provide equal access to facilities and amenities from day one. However, there are still some areas where the guidance lacks clarity, e.g. in relation to bonuses or the pay between assignments exemption, or misses the opportunity to deal with certain practical issues that our members will face. A fuller briefing for EEF members on this issue will be available next week and EEF is running updates and workshops to help members adapt.
For further information contact Charlotte Hagestadt, Principal Adviser, Solicitor
EEF/Westfield Health Sickness Absence Survey 2011
Sickness absence is continuing on a downward trend amongst UK employees, according to EEF’s annual sickness absence survey, which was released this week.
The survey, which is in its seventh year and is run in association with leading health insurance company Westfield Health, shows that from 2007 to 2010 there has been a steady fall in sickness absence, with the average employee taking 5.0 days sickness in 2010 compared with 6.7 days in 2007.
Significantly, an all time high of 45% of employees took no days off through sickness in 2010. Whilst recessionary effects may have played a part, this trend began before the recession with year on year improvements over the last five years.
The survey shows a clear correlation between those companies with strategies in place to train managers in sickness absence and tougher absence targets, with falling absence rates. More than two thirds are now achieving their targets compared with half in 2007 whilst those companies who trained their managers are one third more likely to reduce their sickness absence.
The survey also shows the first results of the impact on sickness absence of the introduction of the ‘fit note’ where the results were mixed. On a positive note, 20% of companies said the introduction had helped them reduce absence and 28% said it has aided return to work discussions. The number of companies reporting the GP as a barrier to rehabilitation also fell significantly, down from 39% in 2007 to 26% in 2010.
You can read further analysis by EEF’s Chief Medical Adviser, Dr Sayeed Khan, in this blog and the survey is available to download for EEF members with access to our website.
EEF IN THE NEWS
As outlined above, on Wednesday we published our annual sickness absence survey which included for the first time questions on the impact of the ‘fit note’. The survey was widely reported at national and regional level as well as in the trade magazines including the Daily Telegraph and Independent.
Our Policy Director, Steve Radley and Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Sayeed Khan, conducted nine broadcast interviews between them including Wake up to Money, the Today Programme and BBC Business Breakfast. Later in the week we responded to the latest decision on interest rates where our response was picked up on the BBC website.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The PMI for manufacturing fell back to 54.6 in April, though the series has now been above the neutral mark of 50.0, which signals expansion, for 21 months. Price pressures were still apparent, with the rate of inflation on factory gate prices only slightly below March’s record high.
Lending to individuals
Data from the Bank of England showed that total net lending to individuals rose by £0.5bn in March. Within the total, mortgage lending was up by £0.4bn, and consumer credit rose by £0.1bn.
The Monetary Policy Committee held the Bank rate at 0.5% and the stock of asset purchases at £200bn.
Input prices rose by 17.6% in the year to April, up from 14.8% the month before. This is the fastest rise since September 2008, and was largely driven by the cost of crude oil and fuel. Output prices also rose, by 5.3%, though this was down a little from 5.6% last month.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Wed 11th: UK Trade
Thu 12th: Index of Production
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