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INSIDER - WHY SINGLE-STATUS HAS GOT HR CHIEFS HOT AND BOTHERED

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Some are more equal than others...
Some are more equal than others

Single-status must have seemed like a good idea when it was agreed in 1997. But as human resources directors breathe a sigh of relief as each deal is concluded, councils look fearfully at their diminishing collections of crisp banknotes.

Councils face large bills to settle past unequal pay, and trade unions face uncertainty as lawyers try to win higher compensation for affected staff than a normal negotiated deal might offer (LGC, 27 July).

One human resources director says her key concern is 'making progress with our pay and grading review, as the trade unions try to understand their own position and the courts decide where the goalposts should be, while trying give our finance director a best guess on costs for next year's budget'.

Another agrees that her greatest worry 'must be equal pay claims'.

This is because recent court judgments 'have created a culture in which trade unions are nervous about negotiating compensation matrices for fear of legal challenge'.

One director wonders how 'we motivate staff who have lost money' as a result of the grading reviews that form the building block of single status agreements.

Costa del north-east

Could global warming entice staff to councils in the north-east, a region hitherto unknown for its pleasing climate?

The unusual weather is the main concern of one human resources director, who complains that 'even in the north-east, known for its chilly summers, we have been wilting in the heat'.

As climate change takes hold, will we one day see people from the Mediterranean coming to northern England for their holidays to take advantage of the relatively cooler weather?

Why be incinerated in Ibiza when you could bask in Blyth? Rumours that her council intends to advertise for punka-wallahs to waft cooling breezes over senior managers are of course wholly untrue.

It takes an age

Age discrimination legislation is a laudable thing, but it could be fraught with complications, one human resources director fears.

The prospect of handling pay, sickness or grievances for, say, a nonagenarian road mender or teenage chief executive must be the stuff of directors' most exotic nightmares.

'My main issue is implementing the age discrimination legislation and ensuring we've checked and re-written relevant policies - with nothing missed,' says one director. But how will they know what has been missed until someone complains?

Views published anonymously. To join the human resources Insider email: mark.smulian@emap.com

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