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To What extent is legislation an effective tool in promoting social change?

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The role of legislation:

To What extent is legislation an effective tool in promoting social change?

Introduction

The legislation against discrimination in the UK employment being developed gradually; legislation has been promoted in response to protect a particular group of people those are victimised from injustice and inequality attitude in the society.It is debateable that the anti-discrimination legislation pursues an organisation to adopt a well meaning policy to comply with ‘equal opportunity’ within the organisation (Kirton & Greene, 2006). Moreover, the anti-discrimination legislation promotes and encourages privileging equality and accessing some rights for discriminated group. Also shaping and establishing tolerable behaviour in the society.

The legislation of anti-discrimination heartens employers to practice in equality and diversity to recruit from different group of people. As the “…., discrimination legislation overrides the common law and the terms of the employment contract, and provides right for specified groups of people with are refused employment or who are in  other ways disadvantaged by an employer’s discriminatory exercise of that right to freedom of contract” (Kirton & Greene, 2006).  Therefore the legislation promotes positive impact in the society that reflects on the labour market position (Kirton & Greene, 2006), and employment experiences of gender, race, religion or belief, age, disabled people, sexual orientation.

In this paper I will sketch out six social areas (such as gender, race, religion or belief, age, disabled people, sexual orientation) and the existing legislation to protect those vulnerable groups from discriminatory treatment; how effective of legislation in promoting social change in employment and get rid of  discrimination from the organisation.  

1. Race discrimination

The fact ‘race’ is discussed as categorising of human into ground of various set of characteristics including race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins (the Race Relations Act 1976). Race discrimination is the term that reflects how person’s attitude discriminates against others: where the discriminate person gets less favourable treatment. As the definition in the Macpherson report cited in Bhavanani (2001: 8) ‘the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin.  It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes, behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantages minority ethnic people’.

Impact of the Race Relations Act 1976 and (Amendment) Regulations Act 2003

Most of employers have bad records to practice racial discrimination which is quoted by the government in UK (Kirton & Greene, 2006). Along with the government assume that the Act 1976 will guide as authoritative driving force to company to adapt diversify human resource practices (source: FT, 22 March 2003). Though the legislation of RRA is introduced over a long period of time, but some employers are not practicing the RRA legislation on the employment procedure (Kirton & Greene, 2006); which is create direct negative impact on the employment. For that reason, most of the minority people are facing racial discrimination within their employment opportunity. For example: In 1992 the Gibson Funeral Services advertised for a vacancy in the local Job Centre to recruit a funeral director. In the jobs requirements the recruiter told the Job Centre not to send any ‘Pakistani’ for this job role (Clarke, 1995). On the other hand, many organisations are truly practicing RRA 1976 during the employment process such as Tesco (Source: www.tescocorp.com). This practice of employment generates positive impact and encouraging other employers to do so.              

By providing a real case study I will justify how the Race Relations Act 1976 and (Amendment) Regulations Act 2003 is applying:

A Indian-born worked at an international Japanese bank in London resigned, as head of credit derivatives, he claim that he had been underpaid and treated as ‘second-class citizen’ by Japanese employers. The Indian employee headed to the employment tribunal, that support the complainant’s claim that he had been discriminated against unlawfully due to he was non Japanese national, not because the different race. The tribunal disclosed that the bank is not practicing ‘equal opportunity’ and facilitated him less favour than other Japanese colleagues. The tribunal awarded him around £1 million as compensation.

Case: Anisetti v Tokyo-Mitsubishi International plc Case No. 6002429/98 (Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission, www.equalityhumanrights.com)  

From the above discussion it could be summarised that the legislation act as a driving force for employers to follow the RRA 1976 during the employments process. In some occasion we observe that some employers are reluctant to obey that regulation, whereas others are happily accept and follow the rules. For that reason, the minorities are still facing difficulties in the employment opportunities. Henceforth, the First Minister and Deputy First Minister wants to build ‘A society in which racial diversity is supported, understood, valued and respected, where racism in any of its forms is not tolerated and where we can all live together as a society and enjoy equality of opportunity and equal protection’ (Source: Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk).

2. Religions or beliefs discrimination

Religious discrimination can takes place if someone doesn’t practice the similar religious or philosophical faith as majority people, or has no religious faith at all, as a result of that the person could be treated as less favourable person than another who is practising different religion or belief. This discrimination is taking place when someone from minority religious background apply for jobs (Source: www.equalityhumanrights.com), as well as vocational training and all facts of employment - recruitment, terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, dismissals and training (Source: www.acas.org.uk).  The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 and Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006are introduced to protect minority religion or belief practitioners from discrimination during their vocational training and all facts of employment. Linda Clarke (1995) defined the impact of the act as ‘religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief, but the requirement for philosophical belief to be similar to a regions' belief is removed by the Equality Act 2006 so that any religious or philosophical belief and a lack of such a belief will be covered’.            

There are four types of religion or belief discrimination: direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Impact of the Law of the Religion or Belief 2006 on the Employment Equality

The Regulation is encouraging employers to practice equal opportunity procedure during recruitment or promotions, based on applicant’s merit, skill and education, where the religion or belief regardless. Indeed the regulation increases awareness to employers to hire people from different religion, which assist to eliminate discrimination within the organisation (Clarke, 1995). The legislation of Racial and Religious Hatred insists employers to observe equality judgement and avoid religion discrimination during employment process. The impact of the legislation is still not observed in every part of the society. For example: a religious organisation normally recruits an employee from the same background of religion, to maintain religion values and morality. On the other hand, most of the non-religion organisations recruit people from different background of religion group. For example: the NHS is highly diverse organisation on employment where the religion or belief are regardless (Surinder Sharma, National Director for Equality and Human Rights, Department of Health). But, in spite of this, discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, religious intolerance and prejudice still exist in certain areas. For example: most of the minority skills workers are get less opportunity to reach in the top level management position.    

By providing a real case study I will justify how the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 and Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 is applying to protect the religion or belief discrimination:

A Muslim worker who was sacked after he went on a trip to Mecca has won his case for unfair dismissal on grounds of religious belief.

Mohammed Khan, 43, used holiday time and unpaid leave from his job cleaning buses in Bradford to spend six weeks in the holy city last winter. On his return, he dismissed from job for a gross misconduct for leaving his work.

Mr Khan took the company to the Employment Tribunal for unjust dismissal after he had asked for his leave twice and was even advised by his union to put in a written request. He won the case and was awarded £10,000.

Case: Mr Khan vs. NIC Hygiene Ltd (source: www.news.bbc.co.uk)

The regulation plays a vital role to change organisational equality opportunity strategy and increasing awareness on non-discrimination offers within the organisation. On the other hand, the GOR has different impact in the society ‘The impact of faith identity may be different for different faith communities.  Furthermore, the impact of a faith background on employment may differ according to the extent to which faith identity is visible or requires visible accommodations…’ (Source: Open Society Institute, Muslims in the UK, 2005).

3. Age and organisation

Discrimination of age is observed when an employer[s] discriminates against on the ground of age to someone within the organisation. Different ways the age discriminations are taking place in the society – for example, ‘someone being made redundant because they are considered too old for the job’ (Source: news.bbc.co.uk). The Act of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 Amendment Regulations 2008 protects employees of any age against the age discrimination including partners of firms, contract workers and anyone in vocational training (source: www.acas.org.uk). Nevertheless the age discrimination law regardless in goods or services, however the human rights act protect on these ground.

Age equality at work and impact of the Act of Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 Amendment Regulations 2008

The Act of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 Amendment Regulations 2008 concerns about all ages employees, various types of employment and vocational related training. The Act provides policy guidance of recruitment, promotion, development and training, redundancy, perks and pay. And the employees need to aware or conscious about the policy of the recruitment during the sing of contract. This will privilege employees to protect from harassment against age discrimination. Moreover, this awareness of employees will oblige to employers to take necessary action plan to eliminate the age discrimination within the organisation. As follows, one high street retailer in the UK reviews their age discrimination policy to eliminate discrimination within the organisation - "we are totally committed to the Age Positive campaign. It makes sound business sense to maximise on the changing demographics of Britain by investing in the older worker as well as the young. We are dedicated to providing a working environment in which everyone feels valued, respected and able to contribute to the success of the business, and to employing a workforce that recognises the diversity of our customers and potential customers." Glyn House, Equality and Diversity Manager, J Sainsbury (Source: www.is4profit.com, 12th, April 2009).

By providing a real case study I will justify how the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 Amendment Regulations 2008 is applying to protect the age discrimination:

Linda Sturdy, a manger of breast screening section of women in NHS Yorkshire, claimed in the employment tribunal that she was harassed, victimised for complaining and on the verge of nervous breakdown by her employer. She claimed that most of her job assigned to the younger and less experienced colleagues and she assigned most junior level jobs that she never done within 15 years. NHS treated her like this because she is nearly three year to retirement. The tribunal panel mentioned that Sturdy unlawfully treated against age discrimination by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The legal team is asserting that Sturdy might win £500,000 as compensation. This litigation is ongoing and it depends on subject to win the case.

Case:Linda Sturdy vs Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

(Source: www.telegraph.co.uk/news)    

The Age discrimination regulation is creating an important change within the organisation equality opportunity policy and increasing social awareness on non-discrimination offers. As well as the legislation is promoting positive impact on the society on the employment policy by implementing age equality within workplace. In addition, public opinion needs to be emerged to tackle age discrimination, predominantly in relation to the retirement age (Spencer and Fredman, 2003).

4. Disability and organisation

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) Amendment 2007 defined disability as “a physical or mental important which has a substantial and long –term adverse effect on [person’s] ability to carry out normal day-to day activities”. The Act helps to protect disable people from unlawful discrimination in society and make sure equal opportunity.

Very little personal contact is observed between disable and non-disable people in the society. The gap of contact between two types of people is powerful obstacle to generate equality opportunity for disable. By minimising the gap of contact both disable and non-disable people can build a positive attitude for disable people in the society. As a result, the positive attitude will build psychological belief that disable people are part of the society, as well they can contribute in the social welfare development.

Kirton & Greene (2006) defines that ‘employment is an important social context, which gives access to opportunity, status and self-worth’. These factors are encouraging disable people to involve in work to fulfil their desire and expectation like general non-disable person. Nevertheless, most employers are reluctant or disagree to recruit disable as a future employee (Hyde, 1996), even more there are very few senior position arises for disable (Kirton & Greene, 2006). Also, if any employer recruit disable people, they become discriminated against in low-paid, low-skilled, low-status jobs by employer (Thornton and Lunt, 1995).

Law and Impact of the disability Act of Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) Amendment 2007:

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) Amendment 2007 introduces to eliminate unlawful discrimination for disable people from the society. It provides policy guidance for disable people right on the following grounds: equal opportunity in employment and education, provide common access to goods, facilities and services, making it easier to rent and buy property; provide disable related facilities for tenants. Act 1995 is assisting employers to emerge new disable policy guidance on favour to disable people. Recently, the Sussex Police Force involve disable people in the development and implementation of disability equality scheme to improve effective and responsive services, including : a text service for both emergency and non-emergency, BSL video clips and audio 'Talklets' delivering vital information on the website, a disability network established for serving officers and police staff  and so on (Source: www.officefordisability.gov.uk/working).

By providing a real case study I will justify the impact of the disable discrimination:

Bob Ross, who was forced to pay to use a wheelchair at Stansted Airport. Mr. Ross sues against Ryanair to the Disability Rights Commission on the ground of unlawful payment. He won the case and compensate £1336 which covers the original £36 cost of hiring a wheelchair for his return trip to France, £1000 for injuries to his feelings £300 for purchase of a wheelchair.

Case: Bob vs Ryanair (source: news.bbc.co.uk).

The legislation of Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is boosting a positive attitude towards the disable people; society starts to think the disable people as useful workforce in some occasion rather than burden of the society. And the legislation act as driving force to encourage employer to think about employment of disable people within the organisation.  

5. Sexual orientation:

‘Sexual orientation’ means the general attraction of feelings between two [more] person to share one sex or another or both. Segal (1994) theorising the sexuality as ‘most educated Western people today… hold two contradictory beliefs about male [sic] homosexuality.  They think that some people ‘really are’ gay, on the one hand, while also agreeing that sexual desires really are unpredictable and fluid, and that male heterosexual identity and dominance are maintained only through the suppression and scapegoating of a potentially widespread and internally generated homosexual desire and activity, on the other’.

Law and impact of sexual orientation Act of the Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 Amendment 2009:

Usually, gay and lesbian people are discriminated because of their sexual orientation from every part of the society from employment to health services (EOR, 1997). Significantly gay and lesbian people disadvantaged in employment is in unequal access of benefits are available such as health insurance, pensions, special leave arrangement, staff discount and others (Kirton and Greene, 2006). The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 Amendment 2009 considers subject of protecting lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) against unlawful discrimination in the society. Colgan et al. (2007) observed sexual orientation equality practice within five private UK multinational enterprises. They find out that all five organisations are strictly following the Sexual Orientation Regulation Act rather than the public organisation. They also mentioned that more policies will be adding on sexual orientation equality ground.      

By providing a real case study I will justify the implication of the sexual orientation discrimination:

Kerry Fletcher, a lesbian soldier face sexual harassment by her male colleague at the Army stables in North Yorkshire. She sued her colleague and claimed that she received a text message "Look, I might be able to convert you". Finally, Ms. Fletcher won the case.  

Case: Kerry Fletcher vs Gay soldier(Source: news.bbc.co.uk)

The regulation of Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 Amendment 2009 is promoting a positive impact towards the different sexual people on the society during the employment. This act insists employer to introduce the all sexual recruitment policy within the organisation. Recently some employers are in the UK include all sex recruitment process by following the act of Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 Amendment 2009.    

6.Gender and organisations

After post world war the economy becomes wider that cross the national boundaries during the ‘golden age’ (between 1945 to 1973) – this act as push and pull factor to extend the labour force and encourage employers to recruit low cost work force such as women. Indeed, society structure becomes more complex than ever which reflects on a large range of social, economic and personal factors. Therefore, ‘these factors result in gender differences which exist and persist in, for example, labour market participation and earnings, family and caring responsibilities, leisure participation, health needs, educational achievement, in transport needs, and in domestic and community safety issues’ (OFMDFM, 2006). Because of that, the rapid growth of women involvement in the labour market has taken place during second half of the twentieth century (Kirton & Greene, 2006).

Gender discrimination could be defined as when an organisation or society unlawfully discriminate someone against the person’s gender, and provide unequal access of facilities within the workplace, educational institute, and consumer services or in public services. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (as amended) applies to protect different gender of people against discrimination from society. The Act 1975 confirms the right of equal opportunity for all types of genders in society. On the other hand, women still are discriminating by employers in the unequal payment system (Anker, 1997). The Equal Pay Act 1970 (as amended) (the EPA) and Sex Discrimination Act helps to resolve the dispute about the equal pay conflict. For example: The deal of equal pay for work of equal value given to council staff at Aberdeen City Council as compensating low-paid staff, specially women (Source: news.bbc.co.uk).

Law and impact of gender discrimination Act of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (as amended):

Twenty-first century the norm for women to be as paid worker rather than full-time house wife (Kirton & Greene, 2006). This norm constructs new ideology in gender equality and opportunity within the society as a piecemeal fashion. Therefore, “a society in which men and women are equally respected and valued as individuals in all of our multiple identities, sharing equality of opportunity, rights and responsibilities in all aspects of our lives” (OFMDFM, 2006). Therefore,the number of women (especially mothers) employment has increased significantly from 30 per cent in 1954 (Wilson, 1994) to 45 per cent in 2001 (EOR, 2001) in the UK.

A case study being provided to justify the implication of the law:

Angela Hildreth, 26, from Newcastle, held a post as a financial manager for Newcastle bar and restaurant. She informed the bar management about her pregnancy, she has been told by management to choose between her baby or job. After that she left the job, seek legal help from the Northumbria’s Student Law Office to pursue the case in court on the ground of Sex discrimination Act. Finally, she won the case and awarded £14,500 as compensation.

Case: Angela Hildreth vs. Newcastle bar and restaurant (www.northumbria.ac.uk).

The regulation of Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (as amended) works as driving force in the society to practice the equal opportunity on employment. By following this most of employers in the UK practicing sex equal opportunity on employment which is creating positive impact on the labour market.

Conclusion:        

The legislation against discrimination in the UK employment being developed in a piecemeal fashion; legislation has been promoted in response to protect a particular group of people those are victimised from injustice and inequality attitude in the society. In addition, the legislation against discrimination promotes equality and accessing some rights for discriminated group; as well as shaping and establishing tolerable behaviour in the society. The legislation also insists and encourages employers to practice in equality and diversity to recruit from different group of people. The discrimination legislation concerns the common employment laws and the terms of the employment contract, and provides employment rights those are refused from employment opportunity or facing some uncertainty by employer’s discriminatory exercise of that right to freedom of contract. Thus, the legislation against discrimination promotes positive impact on the society that reflects on the labour market position, and employment experiences of gender, race, religion or belief, age, disabled people, sexual orientation.

The notion of race discrimination is happened when an employer discriminate his subordinate on the ground of race and provide less favourable treatment on the workplace. The Race Relations Act 1976 is acting as a driving force to race discrimination in the society and encourages employers to practice anti race discrimination on their employment process. But in some occasion we see that some employers are reluctant to practice the race discrimination regulation. For that reason, the minorities are still facing difficulties in the employment opportunities. On the other hand, others are happily accepts and follows the regulation during employment. For example: Tesco, NHS and so on truly practice the anti race discrimination regulation during employment.  

The idea of Religious discrimination is when someone doesn’t practice the similar religious or philosophical faith, or has no religious faith at all, as a result of that the person could be treated as less favourable person than another who is practising different religion or belief. The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 and Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006are introduced to protect minority religious group of people against discrimination. In my observation, I found that the legislation is encouraging employers to pursue the employment process by eliminating religious discrimination. As follows some employers are truly follow the anti religion discrimination law on the employment process such as NHS, Local Council Office (local UK council office). This reflects that the legislation can create a positive impact on employment procedure within the society.

The Act of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 Amendment Regulations 2008 regards on all ages employees, various types of employment and vocational related training. This act provides policy guidance on recruitment, promotion, development and training, redundancy, perks and pay. By encouraging the age equality law some employers redesign the employment policy guidance on the ground of age discrimination such as J Sainsbury.  

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) Amendment 2007 discuses the way to eliminate unlawful discrimination on disable people from the society. This legislation is acting as driving force to change the attitude towards disable people, and generates a significant positive impact in the society. For that reason, some employers in the UK consider disable people as their future or potential employee for a specific job role.

The notion of sexual orientation considers that all types of sex people are equal in the work place or on the employment process. The Act of the Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 Amendment 2009 regards on employment and protects lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) against unlawful discrimination in the society. This legislation promotes a significant improve on the employment process in job market. As follows some UK multinationals redesigned employment policy on the ground of sexual orientation (Colgan et al., 2007).

The norm of gender discrimination is that when a male or female worker gets less favour than opposite sex person. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (as amended) regards to protect two different genders on the employment process and provides equal right on the workplace. This legislation helps to increase a very significant number of women employment in the labour market. Moreover, now every where the women employment is increasing and employers are more happy to provide equal opportunity to women on the employment opportunity.

Though all the anti-discrimination laws have introduced to protect six categories of people in the labour market, but still the discrimination on the labour market is very much identical and minorities are struggling to get maximum benefits from their employers. To resolve this discrimination attitude the government should take monitory action strategy as necessary.        

References:

Anker, R. (1997). Theories of occupational segregation by sex: an overview. International Labour Review, 136 (7), 315-340.

Barnes, C. (1992). Disability and employment. Personnel Review, 21 (6), 55-73.

Colgan, F. Creegan, C. McKearney, A. and Wright, T. (2007). Equality and diversity policies and practices at work: lesbian, gay and bisexual workers. Emerald Vol. 26 No. 6 pp590-609.  

Linda Clarke (1995) Discrimination: Law and Employment (2nd ed): London

Spencer,S.and Reedman,C.(2003).Age Equality comes of age: Delivering Change for Older people. Institute for public policy Research

Hyde, M. (1996). Fifty Yeas of failure : Employment Services for Disabled People in the UK. Work, Employment and Society, 10 (4) 701-115.  

Thornton, P and Lunt, N (1995). Employment of Disabled People: Social Obligation or Individual Responsibility? Social Policy Research Unit.  

Reynolds, G., Nicholls, P. And Alferoff, C. (2001). Disabled People, Re-training and Employment: A qualitative exploration of exclusion. In Equality, Diversity and Disadvantage in Employment (M. Noom and E. Ogbonna, eds). Palgrave.

Segal, L. (1994) Straight Sex, Virago, London

Open Society Institute (2005) Muslims in the UK: Policies for Engaged Citizens  Report published by the Open Society Institute and the EU Monitoring and Advocacy Program

http://www.tescocorp.com/data/1/rec_docs/173_20051017_Ethics_Policy.pdf

Religion or belief: A practical guide for the NHS

http://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/gender_equality_strategy_a_baseline_picture-3.pdf

http://www.developmentandtransition.net/uploads/issuesAttachments/23/DT11_eng.pdf

http://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/transposition-table

http://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/transposition-table

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/yourrights/equalityanddiscrimination/race/pages/whatisracediscimination.aspx

http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/f/l/religion_1.pdf

http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1841

Muslims in the Workplace: A Good Practice Guide for Employers and Employees, Available from: http://www.mcb.org.uk/faith/approved.pdf

BBC: Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/texts/quran_1.shtml

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5378876.stm

Financial Times, 22 March 2003

http://www.is4profit.com/business-advice/employment/age-discrimination-legislation_19.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5124929/NHS-manager-faces-500000-compensation-in-age-discrimination-case.html

http://www.officefordisability.gov.uk/working/casestudies.asp

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3443739.stm

Sexual orientation: http://www.acas.org.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=105&p=0

Gay soldier wins sex pest claim: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/7193843.stm

http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/browse/ne/uninews/625085?view=Standard&news=archive

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/north_east/7175004.stm

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