Thursday, 7 November 2019

ASDA be something better?

Retail and grocery chain ASDA may be sued over changes to workers contracts that arguably constitute unfair dismissal or indirect discrimination.

Howard Mustoe
04 November 2019

'Why I want to sue Asda over new employment contract'

Duncan Carson has just lost his job as a baker at an Asda store near Stoke, but he is preparing to put up a fight.

He is among the Asda workers who have been sacked after refusing to sign up to new contracts, but he aims to take the supermarket to an employment tribunal.

"I think someone should stand up to them," he said. "What is the point in having a contract if they can unilaterally change it?"

Asda gave its workers until midnight on Saturday to agree to new
terms, which include unpaid breaks, changes to night shift payments and being called to work at shorter notice.

Read more ...

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Dilution of retail

I enquired recently about job opportunities at the Waterstones bookshop chain and was told that recruitment is done on a store-by-store basis.

So I phoned a Glasgow branch to find out if there were any vacancies - what, you thought blogging pays??? - and to confirm how to make my approach.

A manager I spoke to said, "We use the old-fashioned method of putting a notice in the store window but we also post on social media. We've just recruited and so applications are closed."

He told me that there had just been 300 applicants for a bookseller post; so I figure that there are at least 299 unemployed book-lovers who perhaps can't afford to shop at Waterstones.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Living in a wild west economy

Imagine living in a lawless town where anything, short of murder or larceny, goes ignored by statutory authorities. Welcome to the west coast of Scotland.

In the first post published here on this blog I mentioned a friend who was turned down for bar work as he was neither female nor aged under thirty. What I didn't mention is that he lives in the same coastal village that I do.

Largs sits on the western edge of a local authority that's regularly to be found near the top of Scotland's index of child poverty. Yet North Ayrshire hosts absolutely no Citizens Advice office anywhere at all within its wide boundaries.

This is a place where fully grown adults compete for jobs lurking well beneath even the "gig economy". Such cash-in-hand opportunities pay far less than minimum wage and neither tax nor National Insurance are an issue.

But of course there's no shortage of takers. The job market is poor here, as in impoverished towns nearby and similarly across Great Britain's other beaten-down communities.

Largs also allows motorists to park their vehicles unhindered on double yellow lines, even right outside the town's part-time police station! I've personally witnessed several near collisions on the corners of streets and road junctions, all due to illegal parking, when merely strolling out to the shops.

Maybe our local bobbies believe traffic enforcement is a luxury that locals can't afford?

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Use of AI in recruitment has become dystopian

Use of AI in recruitment has of course become common. And whether or not that's a good thing, autonomous tech's role in hiring and firing employees is increasing.

Journalist Russell Cavanagh writes about AI and recruitment on the Economic Survivor blog.

I wrote here a couple of days ago about how artificial intelligence might help deal with age discrimination when sifting job applicants' CVs. Deploying algorithms to filter would-be candidates without interference from a recruiter's personal bias made sense.

However, AI now helps not only with the hiring but also the firing of company employees. See the two dystopian stories linked below.

The first piece, written by Drew Harwell at the Washington Post, describes AI being used right now to make discriminatory, biased decisions in a whole variety of ways:

Monday, 21 October 2019

Can AI eliminate discrimination in job recruitment?

Might advanced technology help stop the problem of recruiters discriminating unfairly against job applicants?

Russell Cavanagh writes about age discrimination.and other issues affecting the employment market.

Despite Economic Survivor still being a young blog, there are plenty of articles here confirming what many readers (well, both of you) likely know already - that no matter what laws exist, age discrimination remains rife in the realm of employment.

Office decoration

I was once on a job recruitment panel that chose the young female candidate over the more experienced older man. In retrospect, it seemed a wee bit like choosing how to decorate the office best.

Although I wasn't entirely happy with my then manager's final say, I was still a decade or two away from standing in the same shoes the older guy wore that day. My younger self therefore saw no great issue.

But in truth it turned out, despite thinking at the time my boss was more interested in improving the office feng shui, that our choice did prove very good at doing her job.

And yet she likely wouldn't have got it had automation been available in the recruitment process way back around 2003. Here's why ...

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Higher minimum wage means less money

Who can disagree with the notion of employers paying a decent minimum wage? But this can come at unaffordable cost.

The UK, like the US and other countries, sets mandatory minimum wage levels that employers must pay workers. In Britain the actual figure varies according to age but currently tops out at an hourly £8.21 for anyone aged 25 and over.

A minimum wage increases pressure on businesses not only to finance each employee's take-home pay but also to cover other associated costs such as tax and National Insurance liabilities.

So hiring more workers on shorter hours gives companies clear economic incentives to hire more workers in part-time roles; if employees aren't given enough hours to trigger income tax or National Insurance thresholds, the employer saves a lot of money.

Add other factors to the miserable mix such as increased workplace automation plus a continued rise in online consumer spending (rather than at brick & mortar stores) and the future picture of employment snaps into sharp focus.

In a tight economy, taking opportunities to slash costs proves irresistible.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Protect yourself online to get that job!

We've learned since Edward Snowden's revelations how social media platforms act largely as data collection and intelligence gathering tools. Job seekers are cottoning on.

Visit Economic Survivor blog for the latest tips on job hunting and career change!

Multiple forms of surveillance

Of course, Snowden told us about algorithms, automated intelligence and other digital methods seeking to find out more about us than we are perhaps comfortable with.

If our personal data isn't being harvested for "national security" purposes then it's at least given to commercial and other corporate entities. This is certainly true of free services such as social media and webmail accounts, where we become "the product".

However, the likes of Facebook, Twitter and similar are favourite places for recruiters to check out job candidates. Where better to find out what we really think and how we act when our guard is down?

No matter how carefully you fill out a job application form or compose a "winning" CV, your cannabis avatar or Friday night out photos may let you down.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Older workers becoming the norm?

Will age discrimination become an anachronism as almost one third of today's UK workforce are aged at least 50?


Russell Cavanagh writes about age discrimination and employment issues.

"As the UK becomes more reliant on older workers to meet labour and skill shortages, the world of work will change."

In an article published earlier this week on the website, Andrew Secker wrote: "The employment rate of workers aged 50-64 has doubled over the last 30 years, with those aged 50 and over already making up more than 30 per cent of the UK’s workforce."

Blaming a fall in the nation's birth rates, Secker continued: "As the UK becomes more reliant on older workers to meet labour and skill shortages, the world of work will change." (Read the full article here.)

Although Secker was primarily offering advice to company recruiters and hiring managers seeking to avoid legal pitfalls, he was in fact setting out a demographic that may bring comfort to we jobseekers and career changers of maturer vintage.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Job searches taking two years for over-50s

An article published earlier today reports on research showing well over one-third of jobseekers aged 50+ are likely to be unemployed for two years.

​Those aged 50 to 64 are 37% more likely to be unemployed for more than two years than under-50s, according to analysis from jobsite Rest Less.

Its analysis, based on multiple datasets from the Office for National Statistics' Labour Force Survey (May to July 2019), found that despite their low rate of unemployment overall, those aged 50 to 64 are more likely than any other age group to remain unemployed long term (two years or more).

The research found that 0.62% of 50- to 64-year-olds were unemployed for two years or more, compared to 0.45% of 25- to 49-year-olds and 0.51% of 16- to 24-year-olds.

Read more ...

For context, see my post published here last month about the Office for National Statistics finding employment rates among those aged 50 - 64 years had hit a "record high" of 72.7%.

Note that I also pointed out in the article how ONS data used showed "an aggregated 85% for those aged between 25 and 49 years" - a figure sitting almost 12% above the older generation's good news.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Anything good about that women state pension age judgment?

Yesterday's ruling by the UK High Court dismissing two women's claims of sex and age discrimination could work in favour of older workers in general.

Basically, two women had filed a judicial review action claiming statutory increases in state pension age for women born in the 1950s breached their civil rights on grounds of age discrimination, sex discrimination and lack of notice.

The High Court rejected these claims in a judgment handed down yesterday (October 3) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Hearing the case, Lord Justice Irwin and Justice Whipple even stated that the raise in state pension age for women addressed previous long-standing discrimination against men.

How might this decision be useful to older workers in general?

Traditionally, men could claim state retirement pension at 65 and women at 60. This recently changed to 67 years and both sexes will, under current government plans, eventually have to work until they reach 68 years.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Writing a CV that Avoids Age Discrimination!

Being dismissed as "overqualified" is effectively age discrimination in any job market. But do we invite this with outdated presentation of our CVs?

I read an article recently by a blogger who found that aged 45 she was deemed "too qualified" by hiring managers. Her field of expertise was, ironically, human resources and she wanted to return to her career after a few years away.

She talked about how that discrimination distressed not only her but her family too; resolving the situation by starting a new business that promotes relaxation through painting therapy.

My own C.V. as a car crash

What she said got me thinking. My own work history is a bit of a car crash in terms of several fancy job titles - journalist, legal adviser, photographer, publicity coordinator, multimedia producer, et al - not holding together in any traditional form of CV narrative.


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