· 2 min read · Features

HRDs: The policies I want to see from government


As the election draws ever closer, we asked influential HR professionals what policies they would like to see, in an ideal world.

Guy Pink, executive director of HR, Addaction:

"Politicians are tinkering with a system that is flawed instead of starting with one that works. A much simpler tax and benefits system would be a good starting point for creating a fairer society. Currently individuals are getting stung on PAYE while big multinationals seem to be getting away with setting their own tax levels. I would like to see a simplified tax and benefits system that offers less opportunity for avoidance and supports people into work.

I’d also like to see more done around the living wage, but there should be a distinction between organisation size. If you’re a micro-business, paying the living wage might put you out of business but if you’re a large organisation using contractors, why aren’t you saying in the tender that they must pay the living wage? Part of the way to fix inequality is by having these types of measures in place.

On a similar subject, I’d like to see large plcs required to reveal their pay ratios between the highest and lowest paid. Making things like that and diversity metrics mandatory on annual reports would be a good way for investors to make decisions about where to put their money.

Finally, I’d call for the government to remove VAT on learning and development and for HR practitioners to be consulted about any potential employment legislation before it becomes enacted."

Helen Giles, executive director of HR, St Mungo’s Broadway:

"I would make it compulsory for human capital metrics to be included in annual reports. This idea tends to bubble up and go away again – but it should be mandatory. People always say it’s too hard to do, but it’s not too much trouble for businesses to show their profit and loss or their cash flow. That is pretty complex financial reporting, so it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to report on HR.

You could include metrics such as turnover, sickness absence and employee engagement, to an agreed scale. To me those are the measures of a healthy company. They demonstrate if a business is sustainable. You just need to compare things in a contextual way – turnover rates are going to be much higher in retail for example.

Organisations should be taking a much more rounded approach to organisational health. The evidence is that management standards haven’t got much better. Until people start reporting on these things, talking about them and doing them properly, we are not going to get any better. If it became compulsory [to report on human capital], it would raise awareness, and that becomes a virtuous circle."

Roger Fairhead, group head of compensation and benefits, SAB Miller:

"Firstly, a plea to stop tinkering with pensions legislation. This constant fiddling confuses and disengages individuals from making long-term investment decisions. How can you persuade people to put money in if they don’t know what it will look like when they withdraw it? Individuals are being encouraged to trust future governments with their retirement plans – and what’s to stop a future government saying people can’t touch their savings until they are 75? It’s that kind of tinkering that encourages some people to think they’d rather not save for a pension.

My second request would be to change the basis upon which the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) is calculated, from the cumulative value of payouts (which requires individuals to anticipate future investment returns to determine when to stop pension participation), to the cumulative fund value (enabling individuals to stop saving once the LTA is achieved). This would be a much simpler and fairer calculation. Right now, if an employee is 30 and already has a pension pot of £100,000 it makes more sense to stop saving, or you’ll go over the LTA. I’m sure the government doesn’t want 30-year-olds to stop saving – but mathematically, that’s what they should do. If we were able to say that an employee can’t save more than £40,000 a year, and £1 million in total, people would be able to monitor it more easily."

Read more HR directors' fantasy policies