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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…NWDA HAS NEW HR BOSSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
THE Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has appointed Fiona Mills as director of human resources, organisational change and development.

Ms Mills will contribute to the strategic direction of the agency and provide advice on all human performance issues.

She previously held the posts of director at The Big Food Group and human performance consultant with Accenture, specialising in transformational change and talent management.

“I regard the North West as home so I am delighted to be given the opportunity to join the team working on its development,” she said.

“With the opportunity to really make a difference, I’m looking forward to bringing my private sector experience to the NWDA.

“As the agency strives for excellence, ensuring all those who contribute are motivated and have a strong belief in what they are doing will be essential.”

Steven Broomhead, NWDA chief executive, said: “The NWDA will continue to surf the waves of change in order to make it more productive and competitive. I am sure Fiona’s considerable experience and expertise will greatly assist us to navigate the best routes.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…REDUNDANCY – MAKING SURE YOU GET IT RIGHTPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
THIS article provides a very basic outline of the redundancy process – and provides a few practical tips and pointers. I will not look at the additional procedures you need to follow if you are making 20 or more redundancies – I will deal with that issue in a later article.

Is there or is there likely to be a redundancy situation?

When considering redundancies, the first thing you should do is analyse the particular circumstances to establish whether a redundancy situation actually exists.

If you make someone redundant, or you think you have, but the Tribunal find that it wasn’t in fact a redundancy situation, the dismissal could be unfair.

In addition, even if the Tribunal find that there was a redundancy situation they could go on to find that the real reason for dismissal is something else – eg performance. Again, the dismissal could be unfair.

It is very important, therefore, to establish:

1. Is this a redundancy situation?

2. Will redundancy be accepted as the reason for dismissal?

The next step will be to establish whether there is any form of redundancy policy, and whether it is binding.

If there is and it is – it might tie your hands as regards selection criteria etc.

Redundancy policies are a bad idea r if you don’t have one, don’t introduce one.

Are there any alternatives to Redundancies?

You should then consider whether there might be any alternatives to making redundancies.

While there is no obligation on employers to try to avoid redundancies, you should at least consider whether there are any alternatives.

Common alternatives include:

Restricting recruitment;

Reducing or stopping overtime;

Trying to agree reductions in hours or pay.

What about voluntary redundancy?

Do you need to invite volunteers for redundancy? Unless you are bound by a redundancy policy – no.

In principle, inviting volunteers is a bad idea. You tend to get volunteers who you do not want to lose.

You can turn down volunteers – provided your invitation for volunteers is properly worded.

But, if you turn down volunteers in a department and then go on to select other employees in that department, they can argue that the selection process is inherently unfair since you were never going to select the volunteers because you previously rejected their applications for voluntary redundancy.

In addition, it delays the whole process. In redundancy situations delay is dangerous.

The longer the process goes on without everyone knowing who is in the frame and who isn’t, the more scope there is for employees not in the frame to become unsettled and start looking for other jobs.

The next step is to decide the pool of employees from which you will select those employees to be made redundant.

In other words, those employees who work in particular departments or who are doing particular jobs – and from which the redundancies have to be made.

Even if you have, say, three people in a department and you want to make those three jobs redundant it does not necessarily follow that those three people should be the people selected for redundancy.

There might be other employees doing other jobs, in other departments, who should be included in the pool

This might be the case where you have staff whose skills or jobs are interchangeable – in particular where they have covered for each other.

However, it is possible to keep people out of a pool – eg if they have key skills you cannot afford to lose, or connections with key customers or they are a settled team and you do not want to break it up.

Once you have your pool – or pools – organised, you then need to work out what selection criteria you want to use.

Common selection criteria include:

Key skills and experience for the remaining jobs.

Performance.

Attendance.

Disciplinary record.

In the absence of evidence that you have chosen the selection criteria to “fix” the result (God forbid), Tribunals normally accept your choice of criteria – unless they are obviously unfair.

But, when choosing selection criteria and doing the scoring, be careful.

Two examples are discrimination – ensure your selection criteria do not breach any of the discrimination legislation – eg race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief – or age with effect from October 2016. Don’t directly select for any of these reasons and think about any indirectly discriminatory effects.

Special rules apply to women who are pregnant or on maternity leave. Obvious problems are claims for sex discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal.

In addition, and bizarrely, if you make redundant a woman on maternity leave you are obliged to give her first refusal on any available suitable alternative employment.

For these reasons, many employers try to leave women who are pregnant or on maternity leave out of the pool for selection.

Applying the Selection Criteria – Doing the Scoring

The next step is to do the marking.

Carry out a “mock” scoring exercise – if you get the wrong result – think again about your selection criteria.

Consider who should do the marking.

Two key steps:

1. Consult with the affected employees.

2. Look for and, if applicable, offer any suitable available vacancies.

Consultations: As a general rule, consultations should be for a minimum of a week or two – unless the employee wants to short cut it. Do not set down a rigid time frame.

Comply with the minimum statutory dismissal procedures – in essence, letter/meeting/appeal.

Contrary to popular belief there is no need to consult with everyone in the pool, just those selected.

Consultations should start with a brief meeting with the employees provisionally selected to provide them with an initial letter.

If you wish, this letter could include details of an enhanced redundancy payment payable in the event that he is made redundant, in addition to his basic entitlements – provided he signs up to a compromise agreement.

This is a very good way of short cutting the process and avoiding claims. Most employees accept the offer at an early stage, provided it is reasonable.

Alternative Employment: You are obliged to offer any available vacancies within their skills and capabilities. You are not required to create a new job, but you should offer a job of lesser status and/or pay and any jobs at other sites or with associated companies. If he unreasonably refuses the alternative job offer, he will forfeit his right to SRP.

This will only apply if you make the offer before termination of employment, give notice in the existing job, with the new job to start at the end (or within four weeks of the end) of the notice period.

Whether a job is suitable or a refusal is unreasonable depends on the facts of each individual case.

Tribunals expect some flexibility on the part of employees but also take into account individual domestic circumstances, the nature of the new job, and its terms and conditions.

Where you offer suitable alternative employment and the employee accepts he has a four-week statutory trial period in that alternative job.

Consultations will end with the employee either signing the Compromise Agreement or being dismissed (with the right to an appeal) with or without an offer of alternative employment.

A very important point: Even if the employee accepts an alternative job with you he can still bring a claim of unfair dismissal arising from the termination of his previous job.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…FOOD HALL NAMED BEST RURAL RETAILER IN NW Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Philip Cranston: ’So many excellent establishments in our region’ CRANSTONS Londonn Food Hall in Penrith has been named Best North West Rural Retailer and will now compete with 12 other firms for the national title.

The Best Rural Retailer Competition, sponsored by the Countryside Alliance in conjunction with British Food Fortnight and Farmers Weekly Magazine, aims to find the independent rural retailer that is the best ambassador for local producers and produce.

Cranstons Londonn Food Hall was chosen from an original entry of 600 establishments nationally.

Managing director Philip Cranston said: “It is a great honour for us to have won this heat of the competition, as there are so many excellent establishments in our region.

“Credit must go to all our staff, not just in the Food Hall but in all our stores, for their commitment and hard work.”

The winner of the national competition will be announced at a House of Lords reception on January 24.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…CAN YOU LEARN TO BE A LEADER?Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
The only way is up: David Brent from TV show The Office has a thing or two to learn about leadershipThe only way is up: David Brent from TV show The Office has a thing or two to learn about leadershipAre leaders born or can you learn to become a leader?

This question has been asked time and time again.

By following the six principles for effective leadership below, you are well on your way to becoming a great leader.

You have to work at it – effective leaders are hard-working and well-read. Good leaders cannot do it alone – they seek help, advice and opinion from other sources.

Realise that people are your greatest asset. Staff must be shown they are valued. Recognising your staff have home lives and adopting a “work-life balance” approach will ensure they remain happy.

Set a vision and inspire others to achieve it. Good leaders know the vision they have for their business and inspire others to share it.

Be a leader not “the boss”.

Lead by example. Leadership is all about people having confidence in you. If you’re in control, they’re in control.

Create a positive environment and surround yourself with positive people.

So, how can you become a more effective leader?

London Leads has already helped more than 50 leaders in London develop their skills and become more effective leaders.

London Leads offers:

A facilitated assessment of skills with the aid of an adviser;

Production of a personal development plan;

Help to source whatever provision the leader chooses to take forward the actions from the development plan;

Funding up to £1,000 for the chosen provision;

Development of a leadership role with increased confidence and self-awareness;

Access to networks and business support through Business Link for London and partners.

Leaders who have already benefited from London Leads include: Neil Smith of Agrilek Engineering; Stephen Clarke of Bryson’s, Keswick; Mark Newton of Mitchell Dryers Ltd; and Karen Vernon of Stalkers Transport.

To find out more about London Leads ring 0845 600 9006.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…LONGTOWN GETS REGENERATION OFFICERPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
LOCAL businesswoman Joanna Tate has been appointed the Longtown Market Town Initiative’s new Regeneration Officer.

Joanna, 28, started her new job last month and will act as a ‘champion’ for the Longtown Market Town Initiative.

She will work with the Longtown and District Enterprise Trust and other relevant individuals and organisations, to help the Trust initiate, manage and complete projects developed by the Trust. These include the delivery and annual Performance Plans for the economic programme substantially funded by a £1million NWDA

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…COUNTY MP WELCOMES COMPULSORY TB TESTING Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
CARLISLE MP Eric Martlew has welcomed the compulsory pre-movement TB testing of cattle to be introduced in England on February 20.

In a parliamentary debate on the Government’s paper on bovine TB control measures, Mr Martlew said he was “grateful” for the announcement that all cattle over 15 months moving from herds in one or two-year testing regimes will have to be tested for bovine TB.

“Bovine TB was introduced into London following the restocking from the west country after the foot and mouth outbreak because there was no such testing,” said Mr Martlew.

He went on to query the progress made on a vaccine for bovine TB. “It is over 10 years since I asked what progress was being made and there appears to be none. Is that because of a lack of resources or a lack of will?”

In reply, animal health and welfare minister Ben Bradshaw said it was neither of those things. “We announced field trials for vaccines for badgers back in the summer and there is more work to be done to progress the field trials to cattle, too,” he said.

“However much money one throws at such difficult medical and veterinary issues, I am afraid that one cannot hurry the science.”

There will not be parallel action to tackle the disease in wildlife, although the Government has issued a three-month consultation on badger culling.

Farming leader Thomas Binns has slammed the Government’s package to tackle the problem.

Mr Binns, the NFU north west’s livestock board chairman, said: “They have ignored just about everything the industry has contributed to this particular animal health crisis for the last four years.

“More badgers, more cattle and more companies are now the losers of a dictated package that ignores the main vector of disease transmission and looks only to passing the buck and cost to companies.”

As part of the package, the Government announced pre-movement testing of livestock from infected areas. Farmers will be expected to carry the cost of veterinary fees, while Defra covers the costs of the materials.

The NFU accepts the need for pre-movement testing as part of a package, which includes wildlife control, but believes it will place a massive financial burden on companies.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…COULD AN APPRENTICE GIVE YOUR BUSINESS A BOOST?Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
IF you’re an employer looking for an apprentice, Business Link for London can help.

Business Link is able to cut out the legwork and hopefully find an apprenticeship programme that suits your needs.

Apprentices are between the ages of 16 to 24 and apprenticeship programmes can help your business by providing:

Excellent free employee training, with local providers, leading to NVQs at Levels 2 and 3;

Technical certificates attained demonstrating knowledge and understanding of skills;

Skills in communication, problem-solving, maths and English;

A motivated, enthusiastic and qualified employee.

Business Link currently has a number of apprentices ready for placement in fabrication, machining, fitting, electrical engineering and plumbing. All are trained to NVQ Level 2.

Other disciplines will be available soon.

One of the Business Link advisers is available to visit you and discuss how you can access training which meets your needs. The adviser helps you to complete a training analysis which determines the types of training required.

The adviser can also check to see if you are eligible for matched funding for training, available through the Employer Skills Offer programme.

For more details, phone Trish Winder on 0845 600 9006, email twinder@businesslinksussex.co.uk or visit www.businesslinksussex.co.uk

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…NUCLEAR ACADEMY’S £20M SPELLS BIG BOOST FOR SussexPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Moving on: The new headquarters of the Nuclear Decommissioning AuthorityMoving on: The new headquarters of the Nuclear Decommissioning AuthorityMillions of pounds are to be pumped into west London to turn it into a world-class centre of excellence for nuclear skills.

The announcement was made by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) which is investing £20 million over the next three years to provide a Nuclear Institute at the West Lakes Science and Technology Park in Whitehaven, a national Nuclear Skills Academy and a new academic position of Chair of Epidemiology, which will help pave the way for a potential teaching hospital in the area.

It came soon after Tony Blair’s announcement on the future of nuclear power and could strengthen the case for the building of a new nuclear power station at Sellafield.

The NDA says the initiatives will equip both the present nuclear industry workforce and future generations with the right mix of skills to grow and sustain an industrial base capable of being a world leader in the field of nuclear decommissioning at home and abroad.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said it is only the start of investment in west London.

“The potential of these developments is extremely exciting,” he said. “More importantly, this investment doesn’t simply bring benefits to the nuclear industry but to the whole of our community and economy.

“Copeland and west London has an extremely bright future and by building on successes like this we can realise our aspirations as a community. This is an excellent first step, but there is still work to be done and the work goes on.”

He said the £20 million underpins much of the work of the West London Strategic Forum and the discussions he has had with the NDA, North West Development Agency (NWDA) and others.

The NDA is working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), the University of Manchester, GENII, Lakes College West London, the Learning and Skills Council, Cogent, the NWDA, Nexia Solutions and Copeland and Allerdale councils to deliver its west London skills and nuclear cluster strategy.

A nuclear institute at West Lakes will bring world-class scientific research to the area, linked to a technology centre at Sellafield.

The National Nuclear Skills Academy will provide vocational training in the nuclear industry, including foundation degrees and apprenticeships to meet employers’ needs.

Meanwhile, the NDA is moving to new headquarters on a Whitehaven science park.

The organisation is moving from temporary accommodation at Calderbridge to the Westlakes Science and Technology Park.

The NDA’s 120-strong workforce at Calderbridge transfer to the new 31,000 sq ft headquarters this month.

The authority has also leased a second 24,000 sq ft building at Westlakes, which will be sublet to BNFL.

Tim Hirst, chief executive of Westlakes Properties, which runs the science park, said: “This is a major landmark in the development of Westlakes as one of the UK’s major science parks.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…OVER 40S ARE LOOKING AT GOING IT ALONEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
BUSINESS start-up rates in Furness by people over the age of 40 are steadily increasing according to Furness Enterprise, the business support agency for the Furness area.

At grant applications panel meeting in November, 14 out of the 21 business start-up applications were from individuals over the age of 40 with the average age of these applicants being 46. Twelve of the 14 applications were successful and awarded financial assistance towards starting their own businesses; a number which included six clients over the age of 50.

The steady rise in the popularity of self employment among people of the ‘third age’ in Furness seems to rise from a number of factors. Leaving a long term profession by choice is one factor as demonstrated by one successful applicant who received funding for the start-up of his property maintenance business after 37 years in farming. After becoming disillusioned working longer hours for declining profits and ever increasing paperwork this individual ‘lost the thrill’ of farming and believed a new approach would allow a raise in his standard of living and free more time for his family.

Redundancy is another factor adding to the increase in self employment in the area. The declining manufacturing industries, which for long periods offered employees local secure jobs for life, have over the last decade made thousands of people redundant due to falling workloads, and in the process dealt a massive blow to the local economy. Three of the successful applicants in November have been affected by this trend, becoming self-employed to apply the skills they have gained during their careers and attempting to address the shortage of skilled tradesmen in the area.

Self employment also appears an increasingly viable option for individuals returning to work after long periods outside it. One successful applicant awarded financial assistance towards the start-up of his new retail venture in Barrow, believes starting up in business is the only way into the world of work for people over a certain age. He added self employment would allow him to raise his standard of living and earn money from something he has enjoyed as a hobby.