Monday, 30 January 2012

McDonald’s to the rescue of unemployed youths

McDonald’s is amongst a minority of companies which have seen both profits and growth in the past years, despite the difficult financial climate. The company recently announced that it is to open new branches and institute longer opening hours, which will create 2,500 new jobs.

The Chief executive of McDonald's UK, Jill McDonald, has promised that at least half of the new jobs will go to young people between the ages of 16 and 24. This group has been amongst those worst affected by the lack of job opportunities and there has been wide concern that the lack of professional engagement will have long-term damaging effects on youths’ wellbeing.

McDonald’s financial progress has, to a large part, been because of its ability to adapt its prices to fit money-saving customers. For instance, they have had particularly low-cost-meal deals and lowered the price on take-away drinks, such as coffee. 

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, welcomed the company’s progress and said that their investment in young people helped those “with little or no experience in the world of work" to develop their skills and confidence. For a significant number of these young people, their jobs at McDonald's are the first step in their careers.”

Market professionals stress that McDonald’s has delivered profits to its investors. Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that McDonald’s had seen a more successful period than its competitors. "McDonald's remains a favourite of customers and investors alike, with the general market view of the shares as a strong buy looking unlikely to change in the foreseeable future."

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Monday, 23 January 2012

Helpful tips for job applicants

Job applicants may feel daunted by the process of applying for suitable vacancies, which a company may arrange via hard-copy or on-line. Moreover, it is usual to feel nervous about attending a job interview. However, being well prepared can help enormously with being successful and finding the right job.

Below are some important factors to keep in mind when applying for a job:
  •  Application form – used by an employer to compare candidates’ skills, and assess their self-presentation, so keep all answers truthful and relevant to the job. For example, when listing previous employment in a different business, highlight transferable skills such as working as part of a team. Additionally, you can be selective rather than exhaustive about your hobbies and interests. It is best to use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation
  •  Covering letter – sent with an application form and CV to add a more personal touch to their contents, this letter can include items such as a brief self-introduction, where you heard about the vacancy, why it attracts you, and when you are available for interview. The letter can be brief, no more than a page. If you wish to reveal a protected characteristic, such as a disability, the letter can emphasise skills you acquired by dealing positively with the situation
  •  CV – this should cover the main aspects of your previous educational and working careers under separate headings, and you can find reputable on-line sites that provide good examples of suitable formats. It is a good idea limit a CV to two pages in length, to prevent over-loading the employer with information. You may want to promote your suitability by, for instance, highlighting past experience and success as indications of future achievement. For example, you participated in overseas voluntary work and learned how to make quick decisions in unexpected situations, and this has prepared you to problem solve with confidence in a new job
  •  Interview - it is important to research the company beforehand, usually on-line, so that you appear interested and informed. Bear in mind that interviewers are looking for evidence that you are highly motivated and that you will be committed to the company, so try to think of evidence for these attributes beforehand. Even if your skills do not match the job exactly, a good interview can convince an employer of your willingness to learn. It will help to research popular interview questions in advance, and be prepared for some questions designed to test your reaction to the unexpected

Friday, 20 January 2012

How to deal with job insecurity

In the present economic downturn, job insecurity has become more prevalent. An employee may feel insecure in their present job because they fear their company will reduce the workforce through redundancies or closures. Or, if an employee has already lost their job, they fear not being able to find similar employment in future because employers tend to offer less full-time positions in periods of financial uncertainty.

Some redundant employees may have to accept part-time, temporary or short-term contracts instead. Although part-time working may be a suitable alternative for some, particularly those with families, temporary or short-term contracts are traditionally less secure forms of employment. In some families, it may be helpful to share more traditional roles, depending on which partner has a full-time job. However, a wider diversity of jobs should be available, as a result of more flexible working practices, and this may benefit job-seekers in the short-tem.

For those worried about redundancy, remember that your employer will have to be objective when selecting candidates for dismissal and that you are entitled to the statutory minimum amount of redundancy pay, if you have given two years’ continuous service. However, you could enquire about redeployment opportunities within the same firm, or ask if your company provides free training to prepare you for job-hunting.

Moreover, you can start looking for work while you are still employed. Potential employers may be willing to schedule interviews in the evenings or at week-ends for a variety of applicants, as they are obliged be non-discriminatory. If you are under notice of redundancy, you may be allowed a reasonable amount of paid time-off work to attend interviews or arrange re-training, if you have been continuously employed for two years by the end of your notice. If you work fewer than 16 hours per week and you are over 18, you may still claim Jobseeker’s Allowance while actively looking for work.

Also, take the opportunity to update your CV. Noting that you are currently employed can actually strengthen your profile. This is because you can indicate that you desire further opportunities, rather than specifying that your fear of losing your present job is your reason for moving on. Finally, it will help to review your finances, and cut down in advance on unnecessary expenditure, thereby ensuring you are well-prepared for any (hopefully temporary) periods of unemployment.

Cameron sees looks at how the financial crisis can produce positive results

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has in a speech envisioned how the financial crisis can work as a platform for market improvement. Cameron said that a free market is the way forth to achieve success and that we should “use this crisis of capitalism to improve markets, not undermine them...

“We won't build a better economy by turning our back on the free market. We'll do it by making sure that the market is fair as well as free.”

The Prime Minister said that he had a proactive view on the market in that he realised ways to improve the financial sector, even when it is in a poor state. “So where others see problems with markets as a chance to weaken them, I see problems with markets as an opportunity to improve them.”

However, Cameron recognised that the business sector had not taken responsibility for its actions and that accountability was crucial. ”I want these difficult economic times to achieve more than just paying down the deficit and encouraging growth

“I want them to lead to a socially responsible and genuinely popular capitalism. One in which the power of the market and the obligations of responsibility come together. One in which we improve the market by making it fair as well as free, and in which many more people get a stake in the economy and share in the rewards of success.”

The leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, has previously called for a more responsible financial market. Miliband questioned the sincerity of Cameron’s announced intentions, “Let's judge you on your deeds and not your words”.

The Prime Minister said that significant business achievements must be met by financial rewards but that bonuses and high salaries could not be awarded if a business was finally struggling. “There should be a proper, functioning market for talent at the top of business, and that will inevitably mean some people will earn great rewards.

“But that is a world away from what we've seen in recent years, where the bonus culture - particularly in the City - has got out of control. Where the link between risk, hard work, success and reward has been broken.”
Cameron wants to support entrepreneurs so that more new businesses get started. If the Government acts on its policies and they are successful then more jobs are likely to follow. However, in a straining financial climate many are struggling financially with setting up a new business as they will have to give up the security of their monthly wage.

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

As an employee, how will I be affected by the Government’s proposed reforms to employment law

In the autumn of 2011, the government announced the first results of its consultations on removing unnecessary bureaucracy and a tightening-up of regulations concerning workplace disputes. The government wants to create an environment in which businesses can expand, without creating job insecurity for employees. However, employees may worry that any weakening of their legal protection, especially in an economic downturn, will mean that employers can ‘fire and hire’ more freely.

Employment law reforms on the way include:
  • From 2012 an employee must have given two years’ continuous service, rather than the previous one year, before they can take their employer before an Employment Tribunal. However, there is no change to the rule that employees bringing discrimination claims are able to do so from the first day of employment. The government is also proposing that all workplace disputes between an employee and their employer must be referred to ACAS for mediation, before taking a claim to the Tribunal. This may be advantageous to some employees, as the matter may be settled before court proceedings. Conversely, in serious cases of unfair dismissal, the employee may still have to go to court to obtain appropriate compensation
  • After 2013, employees who bring a Tribunal claim against their employer will be required to pay a fee, which will only be repaid if the employee’s claim is successful. Additionally, an Employment Tribunal will be able to order a claimant to pay a deposit of up to £1,000, to ensure that they wish to continue with a claim that is considered ‘weak’ by the court. Parties to the dispute will also have to pay witnesses’ expenses up-front; and the losing side will reimburse the successful party through costs. These financial risks mean employees will have to be certain of the strength of their claim

  • In the near future, small companies with fewer than 10 employees could be exempt from most employment regulations. Although the employees of these ‘micro’ firms will be happy if their company is flourishing, the removal of any employment rights may cause a power imbalance. For example, a manager could say that an employee is underperforming and dismiss them without further explanation. However, if that employee had not been sufficiently trained or if the manager was a bully they may have not legal recourse regarding unfair dismissal